Anurat Kaeocha is one of the newest members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Thailand. But for years, he’s had an important role for the Church as the Bangkok Thailand Temple’s project manager.
On September 24, 2022, Kaeocha was baptized. “This is the day that I … follow [Jesus Christ’s] path. This is the day that I have shown all of my faith,” Kaeocha wrote on Facebook. “This is the happiest day [for] me.”
That unforgettable day was the culmination of a long road that Kaeocha has traveled—a road full of ups and downs. But as he’s become a sought-after civil engineer and worked closely on the Bangkok Temple, he can see that God has always had a mission for him to fulfill. Now, as he dedicates everything he has to complete the temple on time, this new Latter-day Saint trusts that God will both help him complete the work ahead of him and guide him in the new life he has chosen.
Chosen by God
Born in a small village on the border between Thailand and Laos, Kaeocha grew up with his single mother and a brother. While he describes his childhood as being tough, “something always helped me and [my] family to overcome all of our problems,” Kaeocha tells LDS Living.
At age 14, he moved to Udon Thani, Thailand—a city about eight to nine hours away from Bangkok by car—for high school. Then at age 17, he moved to Bangkok for his bachelor’s degree; and at 21, he received a scholarship to pursue his master’s degree in civil engineering in the Netherlands.
After graduation, Kaeocha worked in the Netherlands as a civil engineer and then as a project manager. But years later, he felt he needed to come back home.
“After 15 years, I heard something calling in my heart. It got louder day by day: ‘Anurat, it is time to go back to Thailand.’ Finally, I decided to leave everything there and come back,” he says.
When he returned home, Kaeocha worked as a project manager for a large hotel that was being built, and he says his experience there prepared him to act as the Bangkok Temple’s project manager. Looking back, he believes that God wanted him to gain the necessary knowledge and skills so that he could accomplish His work.
“I believe that I was chosen by God to do this. There are many other people around me who might do a better job than me, but they didn’t get the opportunity,” says Kaeocha. “I know that the Lord wants a humble and patient project manager like me to help build His holy house. I realize that He always helps me, protects me, supports me, guides me, and leads me to solve all of the construction issues. He has never let me down.”
Guided by God
Kaeocha naturally discovered the gospel of Jesus Christ while working on the temple, learning about the importance of each room as he collaborated with support-team members in Salt Lake City. In the nearly four years since he started the job—the temple’s groundbreaking was held in January 2019—Kaeocha says the project has become very important to him.
“Working on this temple project has been very special to me. … I felt like I was always being guided by something. At the time, I did not recognize that this was God. I always happened to be somewhere on the project to prevent construction mistakes. This was partially because I am a very detail-oriented person, but mostly it was under the guidance of Heavenly Father. Our construction site is so big, but I often was the first one to see the problems. Because of this, I knew that there must be something above that always helped me,” he says.
The project is indeed a massive one. Located in a residential and business district in Bangkok, the temple is 44,405 square feet, with six stories and multiple spires. In addition to the temple, there’s also a 91,730-square-foot Church building that will contain two meetinghouses, seminary and Institute facilities, Church offices, and housing.
The opportunity for Kaeocha to be in this position, he adds, is a miracle—and he wants to do his best work on it.
“I love this temple because I know that all of the members in Thailand are looking forward to it,” he says. “Everyone keeps talking and hoping to be inside this temple someday. This has become my motivation to do my best.”
Tested by God
With the completion of the temple approaching—Kaeocha’s team is constantly checking things like the ceiling, decoration, painting, and even cuts trees and cleans up garbage—Kaeocha decided to learn about the Church while he had the chance. So he started taking lessons from the missionaries at the beginning of July 2022.
“After I learned to pray to our Heavenly Father, I got a stronger feeling that He listens to me, loves me, and is there to always help me,” Kaeocha says.
But as an analytical thinker, Kaeocha had a lot to consider as he studied the gospel. He ended up meeting with a total of 12 missionaries during the process, and yet while it was a long journey, he believes that Heavenly Father was testing him to be sure that he really wanted to follow His path.
“The most challenging thing was to have full faith in Heavenly Father and His Son. I am an engineer, a scientific person who loves to find supporting evidence before having trust or believing in anything. But faith and belief do not work like that. You cannot always explain with a formula. Having faith requires that you must know it for yourself. I prayed every day and asked Heavenly Father to guide me. I know that I got a response from Him. He has given me the sign of a good feeling about the decision I have made.”
Kaeocha was also a heavy drinker and smoker and had more than five cups of coffee every day. Overcoming those habits was very difficult for him, but he persevered and prepared for baptism, deciding to trust in what he felt was true.
“Am I crazy? Am I brainwashed? Not at all,” he said at his baptism. “I made the decision with my full consciousness. … I open my mind to have faith in God. I always believe that all religions are good. The way of the Savior, Jesus Christ, is also a good way. I don’t need to find all reasons to have a belief. I just know it. If it’s not good, it will be gone long ago on its own. Only the best thing can exist for a century. I consider good on the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I can apply these in my daily life. I have become a good, healthy person and know that I will be blessed.”
Sister Lisa Walker, who attended the baptism and is serving as a senior missionary in Thailand, reflected on Facebook about the experience.
“Today, we watched a humble and intelligent man step down into the baptismal font, in front of members, missionaries, and even more significantly … his nonmember coworkers … and follow the Savior’s example,” she wrote. “He’s gained his own spiritual confirmation that God is our Heavenly Father and has a plan for each of us. He understands that Jesus Christ is His Son and His gospel has been restored to the earth.”
Kaeocha, who was raised Buddhist, adds that he has felt immense support from his loved ones throughout this experience. And while 93 percent of the Thai population is Buddhist and 5–10 percent is Muslim, he says his culture is diverse and the people respect different faiths.
“We do not have many problems with respect of other religions and decisions,” he says. “The same has been true with my family and friends. They are all happy for me. Like me, they believe that all religions make a good person. That is why a number of friends [and] nonmembers [came] to support me on my baptism day.”
The hymns “Where Can I Turn for Peace?” and “Consider the Lilies” were sung at the event. Kaeocha also shared his testimony and said the following about the love he’s felt in the Church through other members:
“Every Sunday that I have attended church, I have felt the love among all the brothers and sisters. I see that all the members have very strong faith and belief in Christ. All members are kind and have welcomed me as part of their family, even when I was not a member of the Church. I want to thank all the brothers and sisters in the Church for being Christlike and for sharing love with those who need it. You all are my inspiration. I feel that the Church is filled with the Spirit and with love.”
Since his baptism, new obstacles have already arisen in the temple’s construction due to recent heavy rains. But Kaeocha is determined. “Shine or wet, we must work,” he wrote on Facebook, adding a prayer that Heavenly Father give the crews the strength to complete the project as planned.
Kaeocha has also shared how the temple is already a beautiful landmark among the high-rises in the city. And perhaps what’s especially beautiful is that he’s well on his way to one day participating in the ordinances within that holy place. In sharing his testimony, he says that since meeting the missionaries, “I have felt that my life has changed. I have more hope and get more support. I feel good. I feel peace. That is what is most important. For me, this is the answer to my prayer from Heavenly Father.”
He tells LDS Living that he’s looking forward to the blessings that are ahead: “All I want is to be a good person and to have peace of mind. … [and] for me and my family to be blessed and live a good and happy life,” he says. “I know that I will have a blessed life if I can be a good follower of Christ.”