As the saying goes, “Lions, and tigers, and bears. Oh my!” This weekend, we met Lions,
and got up close to what was once probably a pretty ferocious bear.
And we enjoyed every minute!
Our travel this week started off with a cancelled flight/missed connection and concluded with an extra day in Springfield; but in the end, Carlson Wagonlit Travel agents saved the day on the way down with a rerouting through Chicago and an airline switch, getting us into Springfield only a few hours later than expected. Getting home was more complicated. However, Kathy and I reflected on the entire weekend and concluded, “we were meant to be in Springfield this weekend.”
When we arrived, the local committee made up of PDG Bill Botzow, PDG Debbie and Lion Kevin Cantrell, DG Peter Frantzen, 1st VDG Craig and Lion Darlene Lehman, PDG Walter Hamer, and 2nd VDG Lewis Carnes were at the gate. As we walked through the doors, we were as relieved to see them as they were to see us finally in Springfield. We all climbed into an airport shuttle and without much delay, we arrived at our beautiful suite in the Ramada Oasis Hotel and Convention Center.
At the reception, the Lions of District 26MD-M6 really made us feel welcome. As we made our way around to the different tables, we were met with smiles, handshakes, and friendly greetings. On the food table, we saw a large sheet cake and learned that the local Rotarians had sent it to the reception to thank the Lions for all of the hard work they were doing in their communities. What a great gesture from one organization to another.
When we returned to our suite, we found little gifts from the convention planning committee. Then, after a good night’s sleep, we began the official convention activities. One of the neat features of the opening meeting was a time of “sharing stories.” District Governor Frantzen invited individuals representing the different charities and service projects to talk about their projects and the impacts on their communities. These stories were sometimes personal and always reflected the true spirit of service to others. I thought it was a great way to remind those attending why we do what we do as Lions.
I had the opportunity to sit in on several sessions addressing the topics of protocol, leadership, and emergency preparedness. The first focused on protocol and when I walked into the room, I discovered that the presenter—Lion James Rosbrugh—was a Lion who got his start in the Emerado-Arvilla Lions Club in eastern North Dakota. After he left North Dakota for Missouri, he joined the Rockville Lions Club and later served as District Governor in 2000-2001.
Next, PDG David Harris presented a workshop on leadership development. He stressed that: “leaders don’t say they are leaders—they show they are leaders by who they are and what they do.” This statement sums up something that I strongly believe and strive to demonstrate.
Finally, we attended the session on emergency preparedness presented by PDG Debbie and Lion Kevin Cantrell. PDG Debbie was District Governor when the tornado struck Joplin in 2011 and she mobilized her district to clear debris and helped rebuild homes. They provided food and support for women and children left homeless after the tornado; funding to purchase school materials; planted trees; and made countless trips from their communities to Joplin for over two years, volunteering their time to lend a helping hand. The Lions of MD26-M6 made reaching out a priority because the victims were their families, their next-door neighbors, their friends. They couldn’t do anything else. The workshop leaders hypothetical “staged” disaster situations in several communities where there were Lions Clubs and asked those present to provide specific suggestions about what they do to assist the affected community. This got everyone engaged and thinking about their own communities in time of disaster.
As has become an expectation, I had the honor of inducting three new members at the noon luncheon (bringing the number I have inducted on official visits to 22): Thomas Carrol and Lloyd Evans from the Monett Lions Club; and Corrine Cole from the Marshfield Lions Club. This was the first time the district had included an induction ceremony as part of the district convention. It was a special moment.
The final banquet started out in a special way with the parade of banners from the clubs represented at the convention. Two clubs—Joplin Host and Springfield Host—were chartered in 1921, the same year as my club, the Fargo Lions Club. The audience was receptive to my message and Kathy and I had a great time, sharing some gift bags with products from North Dakota.
After the banquet, we raised $180 for the One Shot One Life Measles Initiative of LCIF and recognized three Lions with Presidential Certificates of Appreciation: Lion Marilyn Harris (chairing the successful Hobo Days event for the district), 2nd VDG-Elect Kevin Cantrell (serving as ALERT chair for the district), and Lion Jennie Mosher (editor of the district newsletter and state Lions publication). DG Peter Frantzen spoke of their contributions while I presented the certificates and pins.
Due to our delayed return to Fargo, we had a chance to visit the fabulous flagship store of Bass Pro. I know it’s hard to imagine, but I walked around with my mouth open looking at the magnitude of the displays, wildlife and fish, and variety of sporting goods, clothes, and food. Our hosts were Kevin and Debbie Cantrell and we so appreciated them staying a little longer so we could have the chance to see this landmark in Springfield.
I am writing this entry in the Chicago airport awaiting the arrival of our plane so we can complete the last leg of this trip. We are relieved that the weather is good. As we sign off for another week, we continue to appreciate the kindnesses we receive from everyone we meet. Serving as a representative for Lions Clubs International is an honor and a pleasure.
This will be a short week at home as we prepare for our trip to New York City and Lions Day at the United Nations. The first time I visited the UN, I was a sophomore in high school. Kathy and I are looking forward to being part of this special day for Lions around the world.
Best wishes to those who serve.
–ID Robert Littlefield