“I will never forget this trip,” said President Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society General President, following her recent April 2022 visit to Asia along with Young Women General President, Bonnie H. Cordon. “It [was] a privilege to be in Asia, to meet the saints, to understand more of the culture, the environment that they are living in…I was just so impressed with the faith, the love, and the warmth that they have shown to us.”
President Bingham and President Cordon, visited Cambodia, Singapore and Thailand during their 12-day tour, accompanied by their husbands and Elder David P. Homer, Asia Area president, and his wife, Nancy. For the prior two years, visits were conducted virtually.
President Cordon, who visited Asia in 2017, was impressed with the increase in Church strength since her last visit, “I was just in awe with the changes in just five years… and to see what the Lord can do in our lives.”
Their visit included time with Sunantha Sombuntham, a successful Thai business owner actively engaged in charitable efforts to improve medical health, increase educational opportunities, and further self-reliance in Thailand. A number of her projects have effectively partnered with Latter-day Saint Charities. President Cordon also met with the former governor of Bangkok, Dr. Bhichit Rattakul, a BYU Alumni. The visits by Church leaders renewed friendships with these wonderful public minded citizens.
In addition to meeting with local leaders, the focus of the nearly two-week tour was to minister to Church members, leaders and missionaries through personal visits, devotionals and firesides. In Thailand, the Church leaders observed and participated in young single adult (YSA) committee and ward youth council meetings. They also spoke at YSA conferences in Cambodia and Singapore and joined a YSA group for lunch. The warm personal interaction was a highlight for all.
“I enjoyed how they took the time to share from their experiences and drawing on it when answering our questions,” said Rayner Tan of the Singapore YSA Ward. “It felt a lot more sincere than just giving textbook answers.”
“I was particularly touched as I witnessed President Bingham, President Cordon and Elder Homer repeatedly and tenderly minister, one by one, to those who needed it most,” said Chris Rollins, bishop of the Singapore YSA Ward. “This Face-to-Face was further confirmation to me that the Lord is directing this work. He saw our little convention in this little island nation and sent His servants to be with us. Over and over, I heard our members remarked on how their personal, private concerns and prayers were answered…We were all so very grateful!”
President Cordon offered, “I have great confidence in the YSA here in the Asia Area…Their insights, their power…it was just remarkable to talk to them.” She recollected sitting with and talking to 500 Cambodian YSA in a very hot room where everybody was sweating, yet very attentive, to be an uplifting experience.
“The thing that I have loved as I’ve been with [them] is their desire to have joy, and they realize they find that in Christ, and they are just not afraid to share it and invite,” President Cordon said.
President Bingham was equally impressed with the YSA she met. “Wherever we’ve been, they are stalwart, stellar…Because the COVID restrictions have been a challenge for a little while…these young adults are committed to reaching out and bringing their peers back, because they know what it will mean to the Church…to have all of that strength for young adults here.”
Other memorable experiences were the leaders’ ministering visits in homes.
“We have met some dear families that are going through some real hard things, such as struggles with illness, but yet they have faith to move forward,” offered President Cordon.
“It was just so tender,” President Bingham said. “So many of these saints that we met have been members of the Church not very long, and [many] of them are the only member of the Church in their family. As we visited with them, their strong testimonies, their depth of feeling was just remarkable… they know who they are. They have chosen the covenant path that leads them to their Savior Jesus Christ.”
Sisters in each of the countries embraced the opportunity to be taught by the General Relief Society and Young Women leaders. Some sisters in Thailand drove for eight hours to attend a devotional at which they spoke.
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President Bingham stated, “Love helps us feel united as a sisterhood. We help one another become a Zion people by working together.” She invited the sisters to gather Israel by preparing for the temple through finding their ancestors and by ministering one by one through extending personal invitations to Church meetings. “It will make a difference. There is strength in numbers. There is power when we’re focusing on the same thing.”
A key message President Cordon repeatedly taught was to live the 2022 youth theme, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” She encouraged the youth and YSA to learn to seek for and act on personal revelation. She urged local leaders to put their focus on helping young people know the Savior better and build a close relationship with Him. “In this crazy world, it is so easy to assume things,” she said. “Trust Him and trust His promise that He will direct our path.”