During his extended trip to Asia, President Gordon B. Hinckley visited the lands of Cambodia and Vietnam. In both countries, he offered special prayers: In Cambodia he offered a prayer to dedicate the land for the preaching of the gospel; in Vietnam, he gave what he described as "an addendum" to the dedicatory prayer he offered in 1966, at the height of the war in Vietnam.
Stays in both countries were brief for President Hinckley, who was accompanied by his wife, Marjorie, and Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve and his wife, Elisa. Also traveling with him were Elder John H. Groberg and his wife, Jean.President Hinckley arrived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in the late afternoon on Tuesday, May 28, after having spent the morning in Shenzhen, China, where, through arrangements of Church-owned Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii, he was a guest of honor. (See Church News, June 1.)
That evening in Phnom Penh, where the Church is legally recognized, he met members and investigators. There are more than 200 members of the Church in Cambodia. Three branches are in Phnom Penh, two comprised mostly of Cambodian members, and one of Vietnamese. Twelve full-time missionaries serve under the direction of the Thailand Bangkok Mission.
Because of instability in certain aspects of life in Cambodia, most of the people in Phnom Penh do not go out at night, when no public transportation is available. Under those circumstances, local Church leaders were uncertain about how many would attend a fireside scheduled with President Hinckley early in the evening. To their surprise and delight, 439 people - more than half of them investigators of the Church - attended a fireside held in a convention hall at the Cambodiana Hotel. Speeches were translated into Cambodian and Vietnamese.
In his address, President Hinckley referred to the infancy of the Church in Cambodia, where it has been formally established about two years, and stated, "The Church has a great future here." As the meeting concluded, it seemed as though the members, missionaries and investigators had a longing in their eyes that the prophet would not leave them. Sensing that longing, President Hinckley told them, "I assure you that we will pray for you and not forget you."
Early the next morning, on May 29, standing on a hill overlooking the Mekong River, President Hinckley dedicated the land of Cambodia for the preaching of the restored gospel.
Later that morning, President Hinckley and his party traveled to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It was here 30 years ago, when the city was known as Saigon, that President Hinckley, then of the Quorum of the Twelve, dedicated the land of South Vietnam for the preaching of the gospel. During his visit May 29, President Hinckley visited the site from which that dedication took place - the roof of the Caravelle Hotel. There he rehearsed his experience of that day of dedication. He expressed confidence and faith that, in "the due time of the Lord, this land will be opened, and many wonderful people will become the beneficiaries of the gospel."
While the Church is not officially recognized in Vietnam, meetings are permitted for branches of the Church in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. President Hinckley met during the morning with 26 members in Ho Chi Minh at the home of branch Pres. Neal Krautz. In remarks to this small group, President Hinckley referred to the small beginnings of the work in the Philippines where there was only one local member in the 1960s and now more than 350,000 members. He said such growth comes because of the faithful people and the blessings of the Lord. He encouraged those present to "be true to the great principles of the gospel." He suggested that they pray, love each other and look forward to the day when each of the adults could go to the temple of the Lord. "If you remain faithful, the time will come when you can go to the temple," he promised.
On the afternoon of May 29, President Hinckley and his party went to Hanoi, where they were met at the airport by Professor Nguyn Huy Phan of the Tran Hung Dao Hospital. For some time he has been involved in coordinating humanitarian assistance rendered by the Church, particularly in the form of medical supplies and technical expertise. He expressed deep appreciation in behalf of the people of Vietnam for the Church's humanitarian services.
During his Asia tour, President Hinckley often noted a desire to "visit some little groups." His desire was fulfilled in Hanoi: 19 were present at a meeting in the home of Hanoi Branch Pres. David Baggs.
During his remarks, he referred to a talk he had given at BYU during the Vietnam War, entitled "A Silver Thread in the Dark Tapestry of War." He spoke of how he felt that the Lord, in His own timetable and in His own way, would cause the gospel to be taught to the people of Vietnam. Then, in what he said was inspired by the Spirit, President Hinckley said he felt impressed to give what he described as an "addendum" to the dedicatory prayer offered 30 years ago. He offered a prayer dedicating the entire land of Vietnam for the preaching of the restored gospel.
After arriving in the Philippines, President Hinckley reflected on his visit to Vietnam. "It was great to see peace in that land," he said.