It has been said that time goes fast when you are having fun.  I am definitely having fun!
Last year at this time we were just nicely back from the Zone 24, 32 Conference held in Vancouver.  Then, after preparing the District Budget with the much needed guidance of our District Treasurer, Matt Jones, January 2013 saw us off to San Diego for five days of DG training - an absolutely fantastic and unique experience.   
Where else in the world outside of the United Nations are you going to be in at the same conference with 528 Districts representing over 200 countries and geographic regions?  Rotary is the only charitable organization, I know of that performs this feat.  It’s an annual function not only for the District Governors, but the District Foundation Chairs as well.  Rotary International also does a five day international conference for all the District representatives on the Council of Legislation once every three years.
What always  impressed me was the Rotarians one meets.  It is simply amazing.  It is like meeting a family member - I can’t describe it any other way.  Those Rotarians who have been on a Rotary Friendship Exchange or worked with other Rotarians on International projects any place in the world likely have had a similar observation.
Thanks to our District Training Team for all the work they do in preparing and delivering the following District 5550 programs:
  • Training  Rotary Club President Elects for their year - at the pre-PETS webinars and at the President-Elect Training Session (PETS) session in Russell every year, 
  • The three District Assemblies,
  • Training our Assistant Governors on the day before PETs,
  • Annual Grants Management certification
  •  Rotary Leadership Institute Training Modules 1, 2 and 3. 
It’s amazing that some Rotarians drive  or fly up  to 800 kilometers (Thompson) to help their clubs by taking these courses.
Elaine and I have experienced what happens to people of a country that do not have a volunteer culture.    Let me simply say I would not want to live there.  It is hard to estimate how much value volunteers add to the quality of life for a country’s citizens.  Rotary International is addressing the issue by asking every Rotary club in the world (34,000 plus clubs) to input their projects, both local and international, on their “Showcase” web site.  Has your club done this yet?
What can I say about The Pas Rotary District Conference or the International Conference in Portugal? You really do miss out on Rotary if you never attend either.  This year they both were unique and exceptional.
For both Elaine and I, by far the most enjoyable part of our year so far has been meeting Rotarians in our District on our club visits.  The Assistant Governors were amazing in organizing these visits.  We really did appreciate the warmth, hospitality and enthusiasm we received from all 48 clubs plus the Brandon Rotaract Club.  We will never forget this experience. The guided tours many of you took us on were tremendous and showed the incredible impact your rotary clubs have on your respective communities.  If I were giving awards for singing clubs it would be Weyburn, Estevan and Saskatoon Meewasin.  We have many cherished memories.
The goodwill weekend in Detroit Lakes was another highlight.
Now it is time to get the District Vibrant Club Award points to start rolling in.  What club will get the $4,000 for their particular project?
Let me say in closing that every Rotarian in the world is basically seeking the same things – Peace and Family Security. In addition, Rotarians share an engrained need to help others, both at home and abroad, that are less fortunate.
May you have a Very Merry Christmas Season. Elaine and I wish you a peaceful, healthy, disaster free year in 2014, as well as a continued desire to “Engage Rotary/Change Lives”.
Thank you for what you do for Rotary.
Ed Thompson, District Governor 5550