By: Rebecca Smibert

 

In the Sunday morning session of the recent General Conference, Elder Quentin L. Cook spoke about the whole of the Thailand, Bangkok mission, who were awake in the middle of the night, jumping on their beds.

“Please don’t tell the Missionary Department!” Sister Senior (the wife of the then mission president) had humorously admonished her family and friends.

Elder Ephraim Cooper, who left from the Gold Coast, Australia just over a year earlier to serve in Bangkok was blessed to be one of those missionaries.

On April 6th 2015, while serving as district leader in the Kamphaeng Phet Province, Elder Cooper awoke at 12:15am, to what would be a memorable night. The shouts of his companion, saying they’d just had 8 missed calls from their zone leaders, roused him from sleep. Next minute his companion was on the phone, exclaiming “no way! No way!” He gave Elder Cooper the news “There’s a Temple announced for Bangkok”.

“My companion would play jokes all the time, so I didn’t believe him at first,” said Ephraim. “Then he passed me the phone, and the zone leaders confirmed it.”

An ecstatic reaction followed. “In our apartment there were four elders, and we all ran around screaming, cheering and jumping,” Ephraim said.

 

ElderCooperSelfie

Elder Cooper’s selfie, that night.

 

The next day was P-day, bringing the chance to email family and friends. In their elation, the missionaries in Bangkok emailed each other, sharing their joy and telling of similar jubilant reactions in each of their apartments.

“Hearing the announcement made me think of the Thai people, whom I’ve grown to love,” Ephraim recalls. “How they and their ancestors will be blessed, how this will strengthen the members.

“The members were jumping for joy too. That Sunday they kept coming up to us, saying ‘Elders, you’ll be so blessed in your missionary work, because a temple is coming’,” said Ephraim. “There was even more enthusiasm for missionary work from the members after the announcement.”

Anticipating and working towards the blessings of having a temple in Thailand was something they had been focusing on as missionaries. Ephraim recounted that in their last transfer meeting prior to the temple announcement President Senior (mission president) had made an almost prophetic statement regarding Thailand getting a temple.

“And he told us we need to help make sure the members are ready,” said Ephraim.

As Elder Cook said in his conference address, “The Seniors taught the investigators and members to picture themselves in the temple and make the necessary lifestyle changes and spiritual preparations to meet this goal.”

The week of the announcement was a particularly special week for Elder Cooper, who days earlier, over Easter, had witnessed a baptism. The Kamphaeng Phet Province had only opened for proselyting a little over one year before, and was the only area in the mission in which there was no baptismal font, so the baptism was performed outdoors, in a beautiful river with a waterfall. “It made me think of Alma, baptizing in the waters of Mormon,” he said.

 

ElderCooperBaptism

Baptism in the waterfall

 

Ephraim has since completed his full time missionary service. Hearing Elder Quentin L. Cook’s talk, in the recent April general conference took him right back to those days on his mission.

The Bangkok Temple will be the first in Thailand. It will serve Latter-day Saints in Thailand, as well as all of Southeast Asia. Currently, the nearest temple to Thailand is Hong Kong, more than 1,000 miles from Bangkok.

In June of 2000, President Gordon B. Hinckley became the first president of the Church to visit Thailand. During this visit, as reported on ldschurchtemples.com, President Hinckley addressed a congregation of over 2,600 members. Some had traveled 18 hours by bus to be in attendance. In his remarks, he told them that they were pioneers of the Lord’s work in their country and promised that if they were faithful, the time would come when a temple would be constructed in Thailand.

 

If you liked this, why not read: How we baptized a whole village

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