Ever since I was called to serve a mission in my home country in 1980, I have observed the hand of God in guiding the establishment and growth of the Church in Malaysia. My own experience of how I had joined the Church in Australia and how I eventually ended up serving a mission in Malaysia is itself a testimony of it. (You can read about it at a later time by clicking here )
I am sure God must have inspired President Hinckley, our current prophet today, to visit our small country in the late 70's when he was an Apostle. It led to the official incorporation of the Church in Malaysia on 19 October 1977. Now we know that the perculiarities of the country made it difficult to have foreign missionaries stay for long to contribute to building the Church here. So besides calling local missionaries to serve, I strongly believe that God had inspired several expatriate members of the Church to come work in Malaysia. Gary Orgill was one such expat who not only came to work in Malaysia, his work tenure enabled him to stay for over ten years in which he had made a tremendous contribution to helping the Church be established.
He came to work for the oil company Exxon but his humility was such that no one really knew at Church that his proper address should be Dr Gary Orgill as his academic qualification was a doctorate in engineering. I suppose a more appropriate title for him was President Orgill, called by the Mission President based in Singapore to serve as his counsellor in Malaysia to look after the affairs of the Church here. When he came to Kuala Lumpur, the KL branch which used to meet in Petaling Jaya had just divided and he joined us in our first KL rented building in Jalan Damai behind the Crown Princess Hotel.
He came with a beautiful wife named Marcia whom we discovered later was a qualified attorney but gave up her career to be a full time homemaker for her family. She was then the mother of 3 children, the eldest being a son named Michael and two daughters named Jeniffer and Katherine the youngest. While he worked with the priesthood leaders, she worked with the primary organization and several other callings in church such as teaching seminary and Sunday School teacher. By the time they left the country for good, they had one additional child named Steven Orgill born in Malaysia.
His children mingled with the local kids at church, being involved in all kinds of fun activities such as Primary presentations, birthday parties and festive celebrations throughout the year. Occasionally, they would follow their Dad on one of his field trips to visit the branches in out lying areas.
I remember early in his arrival to Malaysia while his family were still staying in a temporary apartment in Taman Sri Ukay, we were up north on a District visit. We were driving home to KL and President Orgill was concerned that he could not get through to his wife on the phone. That was the afternoon on 11th of Dec 1993 and when we approached near to his home, we saw that disaster had struck. Fortunately his family was safe as it was the Highland Towers which was a fair distance from his home that had collapsed killing 48 people.
A few months later, the Orgills actually moved to a home on the same street of the collapsed apartments and lived there ever since until they left the country. It was also a home where seminary for the young men and women were taught for a season when Marcia Orgill was called as the seminary teacher. That was when early morning seminary for the kids first started.
President Orgill had served as counsellor for 5 mission presidents under the Singapore Mission. They are Warren R. Jones (1991-1994), Carl D. Warren(1994-1997), Nicholas P. Collins(1997-2000), Joseph F. Boone(2000-2003), Gary L. Larkins(2003-current).
He presided over 3 District Presidents under the Kuala Lumpur Malaysia District. I was the first when he arrived followed by Michael Tamil and later Freddie Chan, the current District President. The status of the church in Malaysia which reports at the end of 2004 of 2,456 members, 4 Districts and 18 branches could be attributed to his consistent and selfless service of over 10 years!
Besides serving the members in the District, he had responsibilities over the full time missionaries. One of the full time missionaries named Michael Cragun returned to Kuala Lumpur in later years with his family and was called as the Branch President.
Gary was a great example to us of Christ like leadership. He had contributed so much to the Church in Malaysia yet many may not know it as he served most times silently in the background even though he was in the foreground when required. He had personal influence to many current leaders of the district and was always willing to join in and be one of us in serving the Lord. We see that his family has emulated his humble attitude in service and we know that they will surely miss him as he leaves us for his other mission across the veil.
He left too quickly and silently on 2 April 2006 but we like to make this special tribute that we dearly owe to him, so that he and his family will know how much we truly appreciate them.
Tears flow in my eyes as I close the sharing of my thoughts of my dear brother who has worked so closely with us and will always remain a part of our lives.
The lyrics of the hymn entitled, 'Each Life That Touches Ours for Good' gives the best description of our feelings for Gary Orgill whose departure gives us a sweet and hallowed memory that we will hold forever in our hearts:
Each life that touches ours for good
Reflects thine own great mercy, Lord;
Thou sendest blessings from above
Thru words and deeds of those who love.
What greater gift dost thou bestow,
What greater goodness can we know
Than Christlike friends, whose gentle ways
Strengthen our faith, enrich our days.
When such a friend from us departs,
We hold forever in our hearts
A sweet and hallowed memory,
Bringing us nearer, Lord, to thee.
For worthy friends whose lives proclaim
Devotion to the Savior’s name,
Who bless our days with peace and love,
We praise thy goodness, Lord, above.
Text: Karen Lynn Davidson, b. 1943. © 1985 IRI
Music: A. Laurence Lyon, b. 1934. © 1985 IRI
Click here and turn on your speakers to listen to the hymn sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.