VIENTIANE, Laos Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve dedicated the Lao People's Democratic Republic for the work of the gospel on Thursday, Feb. 23.
A small group of local members, humanitarian missionaries and visiting Church leaders were in attendance as Elder Holland invoked God's blessings upon the people of Laos. He prayed that the government, its leaders, the Laotian people and the entire land would be blessed with peace.
Elder Holland was accompanied on his visit to Laos and other Asian nations by his wife, Patricia; Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Seventy and a counselor in the Asia Area presidency, along with his wife, Diane; and Thailand Bangkok Mission President Scott F. Hansen and his wife, Suzanne.
The Vientiane Laos Branch of the Thailand Bangkok Mission was formed in June 2003. President Khampee Keosouphom and his two counselors in the branch presidency represent an emerging group of local leaders in Laos.
President Keosouphom stated, "This dedication will be a blessing to our country and to the Church here. It is the first time an apostle of the Lord has been on Laotian soil."
Two Church members present at the dedication have received mission calls to the Thailand Bangkok Mission. Elder Tiengsack Inthavong and Sister Lackhana Keosouphom, President Keosouphom's daughter, will be the first two missionaries to leave from Laos to serve missions.
After the dedication, a humanitarian service missionary, Elder Lawrence Martin said, "It was touching to hear Elder Holland bless the fields and crops, the very earth here, as well as blessing the government and the people."
"It was marvelous and moving, so filled with hope, optimism and promise for the future," added Sister Gaile Clark, another humanitarian service missionary.
Laos is located in Southeast Asia northeast of Thailand and west of Vietnam, and is slightly larger than Utah with just more than 6 million residents. The landlocked country is mostly mountainous and thickly forested. The Mekong River forms a large part of its western border with Thailand.