Von and Sherry Orgill

Former PCC president & CEO Von D. Orgill (left) and his wife, Sherry

More than 500 new “sons and daughters”

About four years after leaving Laie, former Polynesian Cultural Center president and CEO Von D. Orgill and his wife, Sherry, returned for a special PCC team meeting in the Hawaiian Journey Theater on November 2, 2017. They reported on their service as president and “mother” of more than 500 Mormon missionaries in the California-Irvine mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 2013 to 2016.

President Orgill served as PCC’s top executive from 2002 to 2013. He and his wife, Sherry, now live in Orem, Utah, where he is involved in the leadership and organizational effectiveness consulting he did prior to joining the Polynesian Cultural Center. Alfred Grace, the Center’s current president and CEO, succeeded him.

President Orgill explained that as they were preparing to serve in California, church leaders told them they would develop special feelings for these young men and women, and vice versa, “for ever after.” He said, for example, “We’re always having returned missionaries stopping by our home.”

“I’m also trying to spend more time with our children and grandchildren,” he said. To which Sister Orgill, referring to the large number of their new “mission sons and daughters,” said, “We also attend lots of weddings now.”

Listen to the spirit

Turning to mission insights, President Orgill said, “I want to highlight the fact that every day, no matter where we are, not matter what our assignments are, no matter what responsibilities we have, we listen to the Spirit and we recognize that the Lord really is in charge.”

“That’s why the Polynesian Cultural Center is a place of miracles,” he continued, “because He is in charge. You listen to the Spirit, and you do the things He wants you to do…and you can find joy and rejoicing in the process of all that.”

President Orgill told the team members he believes they are all at the Center for a purpose. “Even if you’ve been living here your whole life, and working at the PCC your whole life, and your mom or dad, brothers, sisters and cousins have all been here, none of that’s by accident either. You’re here for God’s purposes.”

“The same thing is true,” he added, for the senior volunteer missionaries and the student employees at the Polynesian Cultural Center.

“We just feel so grateful to have played a little part in what brought us here, and the other places we’ve been privileged to serve.

Photo of Orgills at Grand Opening of the Gateway Restaurant Facility at the Polynesian Cultural Center

Von and Sherry Orgils officially opened the beautiful Gateway Dining Facility in November of 2011

“You have never left our hearts”

Earlier, President Orgill said, “You have never left our hearts and our thoughts. It was a very powerful thing for us to remember that the Polynesian Cultural Center was called a place of miracles from the very beginning… That’s because of the special people who are here and the work you do. We want you to know that we love you. The feelings of gratitude we have are beyond my abilities to describe.”

Before they spoke, Center vice president of cultural presentations Delsa Moe said the Orgills “are very special to us.” Later in the week they toured PCC and were specially recognized in each village.

Story by Mike Foley, who has been a full-time freelance writer and digital media specialist since 2002. Prior to that he had a long career in marketing communications, PR, journalism and university education. Foley learned to speak fluent Samoan as a Mormon missionary before moving to Laie in 1967 — and still does. He has traveled extensively over the years throughout Polynesia, other Pacific islands and Asia. Foley is mostly retired now, but continues to contribute to PCC and various other media.