After rehearsing for months, 1,500 South Korean performers were obviously disappointed when they learned that unforeseen circumstances would prevent expected guest of honor President Gordon B. Hinckley from attending their cultural celebration on a Saturday in July 2005.
But overcoming their own emotions, they put on a superb show in Seoul's Olympic Gymnasium No. 1. They had prepared to perform for the prophet they loved, and though he wasn't there, they seemed to know that he would be pleased with them doing their best.
The event was part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the dedication of Korea for the preaching of the gospel. President Hinckley's efforts as a young general authority administering to the early saints in Asia created a love and faith that permeated the arena as more than 5,000 spectators watched a spectacular and colorful outpouring of talent in song, dance and other performing arts.
Additional devotion was shown toward President Hinckley the following Sunday. More than 10,000 South Korean saints gathered again in the same arena for a regional conference, hoping that the church leader would be able to attend as scheduled. Thousands more throughout Korea met in meetinghouses to view the conference via satellite broadcast.
A sense of anticipation gave way to a flood of gratitude as President Hinckley, after a long morning flight and a brief stop to meet with church members in Vladivostok, Russia, entered the arena and took his place on the stand about 40 minutes after the meeting had started. Spontaneously, the congregation joyously sang "We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet."
When President Hinckley stood up to give the conference's concluding address, his words were translated by Elder In Sang Han of the Seventy. President Hinckley spoke of the early days of the church in the area and of his personal experiences.
Nearing the end of his remarks, President Hinckley tenderly expressed his fond feelings for the church in Asia and his love for the Korean people. As Elder Han translated the words, he became extremely emotional, bearing his deep love, and by extension, the love of all the South Korean saints, for the man they all sustained as prophet, seer and revelator and president of their church.Their testimonies could be felt, testimonies that were flooding, stabilizing and expanding The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in their homeland.