President Chris Krueger opened the meeting asking Dr. Ron Thompson to offer the invocation and Warren Williamson led the Pledge of Allegiance.  Ray Smith led Rotarians and guests in singing "Home on the Range."
 
Guests
Jennifer H was introduced and as someone who can provide payroll services.  David and Sue Jessen were visiting Rotarians from Durham, California.  He is currently President of their club.  He is a machinist.  Both are Paul Harris Fellows.  They were proud to have 100 members in the Interact club sponsored by their club.
 
Drawings
Chuck Flint, who rarely misses a meeting, won $5 when the token drawn matched his badge number in the weekly attendance drawing.  Chuck announced that the large accumulating raffle winnings have grown to $778.  The weekly winner would win the small pot of $40.  Joan Reiman was the lucky ticket holder, but when she attempted to draw the ace of clubs from the cards remaining in the deck, the card she drew was the seven of clubs.
 
Happy Bucks
John Pennypacker was happy to announce that he had heard from PDG Sherry Mischel following RYLA held at Ponderosa the weekend of March 29-31, 2019.  She was raving about all the ways Robert LaBarge contributed to the success of the event.  Lola McClane was happy to be at the meeting, but paid $5 because she forgot to wear her Rotary Pin.  Warren Williamson was happy to have Jennifer visiting our meeting with him.  He was also happy to have spent the prior week in Illinois visiting his siblings. 
 
Bert Millett was proud of his awesome parenting skills.  He told of offering a prize of a sucker to incent his children to help clean house.  The sucker was to be the prize of the child who found a blue marble.  His son found the marble, but knew his sister really wanted the sucker, so he gave his prize to her.  That's when Bert knew he was doing something right. 
 
Dan Coons thanked Pam and Chuck for taking Caio (our Rotary Youth Exchange Student) to Flagstaff for a few days.  He also suggested that any member who had not yet donated or recruited a donation to the sponsorship campaign could buy their way onto his team with a $100 donation.  He reminded said members that if they attended the steak and beans dinner and their partner was stuck with beans, it could cost a lot more than $100.  They would probably have to take them out to a nice restaurant in the near future and buy them a new outfit to wear.  Flowers might even have to be ordered.  There were some "is that fair to all concerned" complaints as his suggestion was voiced... 
 
Don LaBarge was happy that Robert LaBarge had learned all he needed to know about RYLA from his father.  Pam Cohen and Chuck Flint thought they might have contributed to Robert's wealth of knowledge and skill as well.  Don also pointed out the Salvation Army bell-ringing trophy that was on display at the meeting.  Last year, Mesa West raised $14,563.15 and was again the leading donation gathering group.  That total was the lowest of the past three seasons for our club and volunteer efforts.  It is a traveling trophy and Mesa West is the only group to have their name on the trophy to date.  Don was going to attend a recognition event April 4 and receive the trophy again on behalf of our club.  Ron Thompson explained that the way Salvation Army Officers count time-on-job is the number of Christmas seasons they've worked. 
 
Dick Myren was happy Rod Daniels had attended on March 28, and paid a penalty for leaving the meeting early.  He said he is counting the days to the end of tax season.  Penny May announced that the snow is already gone in Anchorage, Alaska, adding that for it to be gone that early in the spring was almost unheard of.  Pam Cohen pointed out there was one all-male table at the meeting and those members generously fined themselves.  Melody Jackson announced a community service event at Oakwood Creative Care.  She also announced that the Mesa Leadership Application process was open for next year.  It is a nine-month program with about 40 field trip opportunities.  An open house will be held Monday, April 22 and Monday, April 29 for individuals interested in being in the next class of Mesa Leadership.  
 
Announcements
  • Spring Olympics will be held Saturday, April 27.  We will be dark (there will be no regular club meeting) Thursday, April 25.
  • Club Leadership Academy will be held Saturday, April 27.  President Chris announced that members who registered and attended the event could be reimbursed by the club.  She said it is a wonderful learning and networking opportunity for any Rotarian who wants to learn more about Rotary at the Club, District, and International level.  There will be 40 elective breakout sessions offered, and the event will end in plenty of time to attend the Spring Olympics that same evening.  To register for CLA, CLICK HERE
  • President Chris reminded members that tax day is coming and 2018 tax credit donations to The Rotary Vocational Fund of Arizona can be made through April 15 at donate.trvfa.org
  • Chris said that the club has run out of flags to exchange with Rotary visitors to our club.  She had some new designs available for viewing and offering opinions about possibly changing the look of our Mesa West Flag going forward.
  • The Global Grant for the Navajo Water Project which our club has committed to support has been approved by The Rotary Foundation.
  • John Pennypacker reminded members that the most efficient way to give to The Rotary Foundation is through Rotary Direct.  He had Flyers on each table.
 
Program
Jeanie Morgan said that in addition to her Mesa West Rotary family, she has another family through her church, Wonderful Mercy Church and Prayer Garden.  She said that when she was going through orientation to become part of that congregation, she learned that her lead Pastor, Graeme Sellers had studied in Scotland as a Rotary scholar.  Because she wanted to hear more about that experience and doubted it would ever be the topic of a sermon, she said she selfishly invited Graeme to present a program for our club relating how the scholarship opportunity had impacted his life.  She asked the club to welcome Graeme Sellers to the podium.
 
Graeme said he was happy to tell about his adventure which began over thirty years ago.  He wanted to thank the members for the gift the Rotary scholarship has been in his life.  It was a gift he never knew he wanted.
 
Graeme had his heart set on being a Rhodes Scholar.  He had advanced to the finals in that competition.  He had even received a letter from the President at ASU who was certain Graeme would be the first Rhodes Scholar among ASU alumni.  When Harry Kaywood, a Rotarian in the Mesa Club, approached Graeme about applying for the Rotary Scholarship, Graeme was so certain he wouldn't need it that it took some persuading to get him to apply.  He did not receive the Rhodes scholarship and his life plan took a very positive turn.  He said that no single opportunity in his life has impacted him more.
 
The opportunity sent him overseas to study at the University of Aberdeen in Aberdeen Scotland under some of the greatest theological scholars in the world.  He later learned that if he had been a Rhodes scholar, his theological studies would have been at Oxford where, according to what he has been told, scholars learn to dissect and examine God.  Instead, he studied under James Torrance, who Graeme said pushed him harder and farther than he'd ever been pushed and introduced him to grace and mercy.  He said that James Torrance became a spiritual father to him.  Later, Graeme studied with James' son, Alan Torrance in New Zealand.  Graeme has fond memories of his time in New Zealand.  He was married while there.
 
Studying in Aberdeen among students and faculty from all over the world, he learned that regardless of differing backgrounds in culture, people groups, politics, and ethics, our dreams are the same.  Living abroad gave him a wanderlust.  He has since visited Europe, China, New Zealand and Africa.
 
The Rotary scholarship covered all Graeme's needs - tuition, books, housing, food, and even included a monthly stipend for personal expenses.  This gave him the freedom to fully appreciate and admire everything he had the opportunity to be exposed to.  When he first arrived in Scotland, he was indoctrinated in how to use their public transportation.  He told about his first bus ride.  When he got on the bus, no one was talking.  It was very quiet.  He sat down next to a woman and smiled at her.  She immediately recognized he was an American and started talked to him in delightful animation.  She talked to him continuously until they reached her destination.  He had understood some of her body language, but with her Scottish brogue, had not understood a single word she spoke.
 
Graeme said the experience to study abroad with the Rotary scholarship was formational and fundamental to shaping the man he is today.  He recalled speaking at a Rotary meeting in Scotland, and when he related the 118° temperatures in Phoenix, they thought he was a visitor from another planet.
 
Graeme took an Irish poetry class.  After class, a group of students decided to continue their conversation at a local pub.  On the way there, the locals suggested Graeme would want to keep quiet and not draw attention to himself.  The pub was in a basement.  When he arrived, descended the stairs and after his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he could see a US flag hanging upside down on the wall with a swastika painted on it.  He could also see some other anti US images, which he declined to detail in polite company, painted on the wall.  Before the evening was over, he found himself in the middle of the room with eight or more others.  Their arms were around each other's shoulders.  They were singing local patriotic ballads, and Graeme had taught them the words to God Bless America.  He learned it is easy to hate in abstraction, but not when in relationship.  What we do matters.