Past District Governor Bret sends this report of his experience at the Rotary International convention in Lisbon,Portugal in June:

We had a great time in Lisbon. Marianne Barker, Rick Phillips, and several other Rotarians from our District were there. It was a big place and difficult to find everyone from district 5400. The opening and closing sessions were really inspiring. It was very nice to hear about many of the wonderful things that happened in creating Peace Through Service directly from President Tanaka. It was also assuring to feel the leadership of now President Burton from our very own Zone. There were people from all over the world and it did not take long to know if you were talking to someone that came from another country and I even had a hard time with a few of the folks from the South of our United States. The breakout sessions were really helpful for the future leaders of Rotary. The idea exchange in this type of gathering is really hard to imagine if you are not there. The think tank feeling is truly amazing.

We had entertainment that was world class. Again, this was so good that it is difficult to even put into words what it felt like to be there. Everyone needs to have this experience. The country of Portugal is absolutely beautiful. My wife and I have run in the streets of Lisbon and other cities along our trip. It is really fun to be out in the morning as the sun comes up and the shops are opening and the city starts to come alive. People hurrying somewhere. Others enjoying the first beverage of the day, smells of the bakeries and buses. It is a big city but we loved every minute of it. We had a lot of fun getting in a cab and trying to talk to the driver and end up at the right spot. Sometimes it did not work out perfectly but it was all part of the experience. It was also fun ordering off of a menu that we did not understand and then the surprise of what they brought us to eat. The people were delightful and there really could not have been a better place to have the Harbor of Peace for Rotary. We stood in front of the casket and it's bearer's that contain the remaining elements of Christopher Columbus. It was interesting to stand in buildings that are at least 4 times older than the span of time form the early explorers of America and now. I sometimes wondered if this would be the day that that building might fall with me in it. Oh well, I wonder what Christopher Columbus might think about me exploring a new land of Portugal. 

The history from the Mores(not sure of spelling), to the Arabs, to the conquests of the Christians and everything in-between would take years of being there to scratch the surface. I left Portugal feeling a lot younger. The Tegus River would have been the river that the explorers would have pushed out of into the Atlantic ocean. The river was quite calm with a tidal rise of about eight feet. When you left the shelter of the bay the Atlantic Ocean reminded me of just how risky it was to turn to the west and sail into the unknown. The surf was so rough that the surfers were not able to get into it. From hundreds of yards away the roar of the water was enough to feel as it passed by. With all of the risky elements of exploration, it was not surprising that there were many Saints that were depicted in art as they stood as sentinels of safety for the travelers. Beautiful mosaics were on the corners of every building. Statues at the entry of the freeways, monuments of the Mother Mary looking out to the ocean protecting the people. I think that our country would be broke for sure if we had to put up as many monuments as I saw while I was there. Please don't get me wrong, I enjoyed seeing every one of them. Rotary creates the perfect environment to bring all people together and Portugal gave us the feeling that we can be the explores of our new world. All that is left for us is to jump into the unknown. Everyone should start thinking about going down under.

Here's a late edition from Marianne: I met my first Rotarian from another land my first evening at the Rotary International Convention in Lisbon, Portugal. (see photo on first page) His name is Luiz Begosso from Brazil. When I said I was from Idaho, he asked, "Do you know Tom?" That's my good friend Tom Rosenthal of Boise Sunrise and Rotary Youth Exchange of course.  Rotary is a small world, all 1.2 million of us!

See the photo album on our home page for some pictures from Lisbon (if anyone has some photos to add, please send them along!)