My service years for the community through the Church in Malaysia working with many good men and women

In my lifetime at Church, I have been called to different positions of service and leadership of which I accepted with equal importance as when I first experienced my call to serve as a missionary, believing it to be a call of God working through his inspired servants. From being called as the branch president of KL branch (1984-88) where I was given ecclesiastical responsibility of a branch of members to later being called as the district president of the Church(1988-95) to oversee all branches in the country, I soon learned what it is like to lead others with the spirit. Unlike personal revelations that I had been receiving for myself on matters pertaining to my own life, such Church leadership positions required that I receive revelation for others and the church within the boundaries or keys of my authority.

I would be required to make important decisions that affect individuals as well as congregations as a whole so how did I qualify and make those critical decisions? President Gordon B Hinckley in the Priesthood session of the October General Conference of the Church in 1988 gave a good message about this addressed to all Bishops of the Church. (Just to note that a Branch President was equivalent to a Bishop, as they are called in larger Stake organizations of the Church but we were just a District of the Church in Malaysia but the same principles apply to a Branch President.) He was then the first counselor in the First Presidency of the Church and it was a significant time when I was just being released as the branch president to be called as the District President in our local Malaysian District Conference of the Church.

Basically, I qualified by being worthy to receive revelation to guide my decisions as a Church leader. From an address by Dalin H. Oaks at a Brigham Young University devotional assembly on September 29, 1981 : "Revelation is communication from God to man. It can occur in many different ways. Some prophets, like Moses and Joseph Smith, have talked with God face to face. Some persons have had personal communication with angels. Other revelations have come, as Elder James E. Talmage described it, “through the dreams of sleep or in waking visions of the mind” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 229).

In its more familiar forms, revelation or inspiration comes by means of words or thoughts communicated to the mind (see D&C 8:2–3; Enos 1:10), by sudden enlightenment (see D&C 6:14–15), by positive or negative feelings about proposed courses of action, or even by inspiring performances, as in the performing arts. As Elder Boyd K. Packer has stated, “Inspiration comes more as a feeling than as a sound” (Boyd K. Packer, “Prayers and Answers,” Ensign, Nov. 1979, pp. 19–20)."

Below are some photos of events in chronological order during the time of my service for the community through the Church in Malaysia after completing my full-time mission as a young Elder :

1982 Nov, President Lionel Walters with his wife Marianne and family visiting the PJ missionary quarters that became our Church meeting house. President Walters was the mission president in the Singapore Mission in the years 1982-85. He is from Australia but with roots in Malaysia. He replaced Talmage Jones who was the Singapore Mission President in 1979-82 during my mission years. He, therefore, was in our Singapore wedding reception at the Bukit Timah Chapel on 15 Jan 1983.

The first visit of my wife and I to Salt Lake Temple was in Dec 1983. Seen in the photo is Bro Chen Kai Kuan who had his temple marriage on this day sealed to his wife Jessie.  On the left is Bro Tan Su Kiong, who later became a Patriarch and also Area Seventy Authority in Singapore, seen with his wife Hazel. My former mission president Talmage Jones with his wife Vera is seen at the back with Veloy Chan, who is the wife of Stephen Lai who later became Stake President of Singapore. Our turn for a temple marriage sealing followed on 22nd December performed by the then temple President Marion D. Hanks.

1984 Sep, in a Conference in Ipoh, I was called to be the Branch President of KL branch by President Skidmore, the District President who used to work for Boeing in Seattle. He and his wife served as a missionary couple based in Kuala Lumpur.

1986 Feb was the visit by Apostle Marvin J. Ashton. Seen are members of KL branch in our temp meeting house in PJ as our Jalan Mentri Utara meeting house was being renovated. I brought the Apostle to visit my father at his home in Cheras and consequently, he came for the Church meeting seen on the far right. Marvin J. Ashton gave a great talk later in the year in our Church April General Conference that has influenced my life to always be of "Good Cheer"!

1986 Jun, the PJ meeting house was in the process of renovation with an extension of a large hall and additional rooms to be used as church offices. Visiting the building which used to be the missionary quarters for the PJ couple is Ralph and Ruth Cannon who were the missionary couple with me on my mission in Malaysia. Brother Cannon served as District President after he and his wife took over from the previous missionary couple, Floyd and Edna Stoker.  I had stayed in the building for a short term with the Stokers when I started my mission in Aug 1982 as it was then also a home for the missionary couple. Both couples were from Salt Lake City, Utah. The extended building was to better serve the KL branch that had been growing over the years in this original PJ home at 3 Jalan Mentri Utara 7/4. Petaling Jaya.

1987 Jul, at the dedication of the renovated PJ meeting house seen with President Harold E. Delamare and his wife. Pres Delamare was the Mission President in the years 1985-88. He was from the State of Texas in the US. On their right is Rodney How, Sophia Ho an Ivan B.Ho who was the District President at that time.

1988 Oct, I was called as the new District President after Ivan B Ho. Seen in the photo are my 1st counselor Freddie Chan on the left and 2nd counselor Michael Tamil on my right taken at the main door entrance of the PJ meeting house.

District travels were planned for regular visits to all branches as far as Penang island where my brother-in-law Roy Thong, working then in the Presiding Bishopric Office (PBO) of the Church in Hong Kong, had in the previous year secured the property as seen in the above photo to be used as a meeting house for the Penang Branch at 16 Scotland Road.

1990 Feb was a District Priesthood Leadership meeting in Ipoh organized by the District separate from the Klang Valley branches to cater for the branches of Ipoh and Penang to minimize traveling for the brethren. This would take place twice a year.

1990 Apr is when I was sent to Hong Kong for Area training led by our Apostle Dallin H. Oaks. Leaders need to be trained too so that we can train others and build up more leaders to lead our branches in our District.

1990 Apr we had a visit from Pres Douglas Smith who is a member of the Second Quorum of Seventy who was accompanied by Sis Barbara Smith who was the former President of the General Presidency of the Relief Society organization of the Church. Sis Barbara Smith presented to our family a book she had coauthored entitled "Women of Devotion" that is recorded in one of my other journal posts here.

1990 Apr, on the occasion of the visit of Pres Douglas Smith and wife Barbara, we also find the presence of President Robert Houghton and his wife Linda to KL. President Houghton served as the Mission President in Singapore in the years 1988-91.

1991 was when this photo was taken of Johnner Tan in the early beginnings of the Johore Bahru group that later became a branch taken care by the Singapore Church.

1991 Jul was when this photo was taken when a group of KL members made it to the Manila Temple for the first time, organized by the KL-Malaysia District.

This is another Priesthood leadership meeting held in 1992 for the Penang and Ipoh branch presided by Pres. Warren Jones, sitting right in the center, who was the Mission President for the years 1991-94.

1992 Nov, President Tai Kwok Yuen from the Area Presidency in Hong Kong visited Kuala Lumpur for District Conference of the KL-Malaysia District. Seen in the photo is the Mission President Warren Jones. My family miracle that happened at the time of the visit of President and Sis Tai is recorded at a future time here involving the birth of our 2nd son Shuan!

In the first quarter of 1993, the KL branch moved to a new building off the main road of Jalan Ampang. The District had earlier found and recommended that the Church purchase the property on 4 Jalan Ampang Tengah to serve as a meeting house for KL branch. This was a property that my wife Geok Lee noticed passing by it almost daily when taking our children to school or back from our home. It was seen suitable as it was close to the main road of Jalan Ampang with regular buses passing by and an LRT train station close by.

The KL branch was occupying the home at 3 Jalan Mentri Utara 7/4 since it moved there in January 1979 and when the branch divided to form the new PJ branch on 30 July 1990, the KL branch soon moved to a rented home in the Kuala Lumpur city itself located behind the Yow Chuan Plaza, which was at the corner of Jalan Tun Razak and Jalan Ampang, until the new property on Jalan Ampang Tengah was ready.

On 1993 May 15, Bro Anthony Lim, the National Director of the Church Public Affairs for Malaysia had arranged 5 volumes of the Mormon Encyclopedia to be presented by Prof Halvor P. Hansen from the University of the Pacific, California to Puan Mariam, Deputy Director of the National Library in Kuala Lumpur,

1993 Jun, the District working with the branch presidency facilitated the process for the Church to acquire a property in Ipoh to be used as a meeting house for Ipoh branch.

1993 Aug is when this photo was taken at the Ipoh Branch Conference in the newly acquired property after minor renovations were completed.

1993 Nov was another temple trip to Manila organized by the KL-Malaysia District. Members from Ipoh, Penang and KL participated in this trip.

1993 Nov, there was another Area Training meeting in Hong Kong and in this photo right of me is Elder Tai Kwok Yuen and John Carmack of the Asia Area Presidency whom I am familiar with from their previous visits to Kuala Lumpur.

1994 Feb, District Leaders with Gary Orgill (hidden behind Alvin Tan beside his wife Marcia Orgill in blue on the far left) as counselor of the Mission Presidency and their families with Elders Poulsen and Payne, visited Kuantan in the vicinity of Legend Hotel where Alvin Tan and his wife Norma were preparing to be baptized about a month later.

1994 May was the Branch Conference in Penang with the presence of District officers visiting from KL. The photo is taken inside the branch building, a renovated bungalow that the Church had purchased and was dedicated by President DeLaMare of the Singapore Mission on 7 July 1987.

1994 Aug, a meeting of the District Council members was held in the PJ meeting house in Jalan Mentri Utara. In attendance was Gary Orgill, a counselor to the Mission President in Singapore.

1994 Aug, The early beginnings of the Melaka group when few members from KL paid a visit to survey the city that is about 2 hours drive away from Kuala Lumpur. It was not until 14 May 1995 that the Melaka Branch was organized at No 5586, Taman Ciptaco, Bukit Baru, 75450 Melaka with Michael Seet as the 1st branch president and counselors Edward Harold Davis and Alvin Tan Yock Win

1994 Sep  A dinner group photo with His Majesty, The King, Agong Tuanku Ja'Afar and Her Majesty, Tuanku Najihah at the Royal Palace Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur. Left to right: Marcia Orgill, Sophia Ho, Ivan B Ho, Sandy Gordacan, Gary Orgill, His Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Queen, Anthony TK Lim, Vincent Gordacan, Anita Skipps, Thong Geok Lee, Joseph Skipps, Chong Sun Fu

1994 Nov, was another temple trip to the Manila Temple with the participation of Gary Orgill, counselor to the Mission President in Singapore.

Early members of the Melaka branch that was created on 14 May 1995

1994 Nov, the fourth and last property acquisition during my term as District President was to acquire the commercial building in PJ Newtown to meet the needs of the growing branches in the Petaling Jaya area. The application by the church attorney from the government was at first rejected but due to divine intervention and my contact with an influential friend, the decision was reversed. This story has yet to be journalized and kept sacred.

1994 Nov, Area Training in Hong Kong presided by Elder Jeffery R. Holland, a member of the quorum of twelve apostles who was just sustained on 23 June earlier in the year. The right of me, standing in the front row 2nd from the right, is Pres Carl D. Warren in his first year as President of the Singapore Mission who served from 1994-97.

1994 Dec in East Malaysia during the visit of Elder H. Groberg with Pres and Sis Warren. Standing on the back left is Elder Brandon Pendell who later married Sis. Dinah Tampon, standing in the center. This was the beginning of a rapid growth of the Church in East Malaysia to have a chapel of the Church in every major city both in Sabah and Sarawak states of East Malaysia. A documented story of the early beginnings is found here which covers the story of Sis Dinah in the center back to become the first missionary called from East Malaysia who became Sis. Dinah Pendell years later.

1994 Dec, a photo of the KL choir with Elder John H. Groberg at District Conference. The same choir sang during the Christmas period in two public malls ie Sungei Wang and the Subang Jaya Mall

1995 Single Adults in the PJ meeting house

1995 Jun, at District Conference in my last year as District President with my 1st counselor Freddie Chan on my left and 2nd counselor Ramachandram Keloo. Pres. Ramachandram had replaced Michael Tamil as he was called earlier to be the Branch President of PJ branch.

Those were busy years indeed to help the Church in Malaysia be established with the foundation of 5 Church-owned buildings in West Malaysia and have adequate trained local leadership for continued growth. It was also a humbling experience to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord in this part of his vineyard. There were unique obstacles in Malaysia and I experienced miracles for my personal well being as well as for the progress of the Church. I will share these sacred experiences in another post.

When you're busy time goes by quickly and besides Church growth, our family grew too. The year-end of 1995 when I was released as District President came about quickly and this is how my own family had grown, thanks to a devoted wife who sacrificed much while I was busy in the Lord's errand

I am grateful for the opportunity to have served the Church and my fellow countrymen in Malaysia in many different capacities.  The beauty of this Restored Gospel and the Church is that it is directed by revelation and anyone can be worthy enough to be called to serve if they are willing enough to follow and be obedient to the Saviour Jesus Christ and keep his commandments. In as much as I had received some recognition in the media or publications on my leadership role in the Church, I like to state that I was merely lucky to be in the right place and the right time to be recognized. There were many others who have been valiant servants in different capacities that assisted me in my role such as my counselors, my council members and the many branch leaders who sacrificed their time and resources to minister to one another and to build what we believe to be the kingdom of God on earth. There were also my more experienced leaders above me who were often foreigners or expats who were always willing to guide or help me. One such person I must mention is Gary Orgill whom I had paid tribute to when he passed away in April of 2006, in my own media found here!

Serving in the Church is a great blessing and keeps you busy. As recorded in our family newsletter on the eve of the New Millennium in Dec 1999, my life was deeply engrossed with duties of fatherhood, priesthood and of course my livelihood. Indeed I had always felt a sense of great joy and happiness in my life as I fulfilled what I believed to be an important purpose of life which is simply to serve others.

Time passes by quickly and reunions with some of these good men and women can be found here. For those who have passed on that we are aware of, they are remembered in a memorial post here.

Post-dated development:
2020 year of the pandemic of COVID-19

Sunday 29 Nov 2020
Zoom meeting conference for all the West Malaysia branches

I took screen shots of the online conference to read later this Facebook comment from Joyce Yong, a pioneer member of KL branch, who basically narrated what happened in the online conference for the Church in West Malaysia:

"WOW, today it was announced that Ipoh and Penang branch will join our KL District🤩🤩🤩🥰🥰🥰😍😍😍it feels like old time again when i first joined the church in 1980. I really look forward for District Conf where we can meet all the saints united and become one ....🎉🎉🎉💪💪💪🤩🤩🤩boundaries were redrawn and those who live in Subang and Damansara side will combine with PJ and those who live out in Klang and Shah Alam will join with Puchong branch❤Yes, Subang branch has been resolved this morning😒😱😱i have mix feelings about our branch being dissolved but God's plan is better than our plan. We just need to put our trust in him!! ❤❤❤"

I nearly missed this online conference as I woke up about plus eight in the morning, thinking it was Saturday morning. I lose track of my days during this pandemic era as I have become a writer and socialpreneur just keeping busy in my small area of Bukit Bintang where no MCOs or CMCOs could stop me being busy for the whole year shared in, indoors or outdoors between my home and my office!

The first part of the video shows how I exercise indoors during the pandemic while the latter part are all previous ways to exercise outdoors before the pandemic!

I lose track of time because of minimum appointments and for anyone who wants to meet me, they need to call me first so then only will I note the day and time, to meet me at my Blue Boy office. It's a luxury I designed for myself, to enjoy at minimum cost of time or money so I can still serve community and be busy as a writer working on my goal to publish my first book! I also don't have to keep updating my blogs as I'm into creating websites containing my researched information with specialized themes better explained here.

I don't have to travel the world any more. The world knows where to find me!


Selva said...

Bro Chong , this is Selva writing this comment from Tianjin China . I am so inspired of after reading your accurate church history of Malaysia . I came to know how much time and service you have had contributed to the church in Malaysia. I really appreciate and salute you for your continuous effort that even the pandemic can’t stop if one is guided by the lord to serve Him. Thank you for doing this . Keep it up and last but not the least , belated happy new year greetings to you and others at your home.

Dad the KL city kid said...

Hi Selva, just read your comment in my post in March 2021. Not sure when you made it as blogger doesn't give details of the date and I don't get notifications of any comments on my posts too. Could be I may not have turned on notifications if there is such an option as I just blog or write my journals and don't worry about such details too much. Since I read your comments, I've added a photo above of my last meeting with you in Beijing just before the summer Olympic games of 2018! Good to hear from you my friend and good brother of the Church!