Elders Chauncey West, Elam Luddington, Benjamin Dewey, and Levi Savage were part of a group of 106 elders called to go on foreign missions at a special meeting held in Great Salt Lake City, August 28, 1852.
Called to preach the gospel to the people of Siam (present-day Thailand), the four traveled by teams bound for California, arriving in San Bernardino the first week in December. Together with nine other missionaries going to India, the four boarded the ship Monsoon and arrived in Calcutta, India, the next April.
Because of some trouble with the government of Burma, transportation for the four elders to Siam was impossible. They counseled with the Hindostan mission president and decided to stay for a while in India. Elders Luddington and Savage were assigned to preach the gospel in Burma, and Elders Dewey and West were sent to the island of Ceylon.
Of the four elders, only Elder Luddington succeeded in finally entering the kingdom of Siam. He spent about four months in the capital city of Bangkok and the surrounding area, but had little success.
It wasn’t until 112 years later, in 1966, that Thailand was dedicated to the preaching of the gospel by Elder Gordon B. Hinckley of the Council of the Twelve.
At that time, Thailand was part of the Southern Far East Mission with headquarters in Hong Kong. In 1969 Thailand was included in the Southeast Asia Mission and mission headquarters were located in Singapore.
Four years later, in August 1973, the Thailand Mission was organized and included the countries of Thailand, Laos, Burma, and Cambodia. Headquarters for the mission are in Bangkok, the same city where Elder Luddington met with disappointment 119 years before.
At the present time Thailand is the only country in the mission where missionaries are permitted to preach the gospel. To help them in their work the Book of Mormon has now been translated into the Thai language. When it is printed the missionaries will have a valuable tool to help the people of Thailand understand the gospel.
There are now four districts in the Thailand mission and nine branches with a total of about 730 members. Last August Elder David B. Haight, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve, dedicated the first chapel in Thailand in the Bangkok District. The happy occasion was attended by 350 faithful Thailand Saints.