Thursday, March 21, 2013

Unsung Heroes - 12 March

I want to start this blog by giving you two pictures; two things to think about:

Some years ago I travelled from Port Elizabeth to visit my parents in what was then the Transvaal. On the way I stopped for a while at the Gariep Dam (in the San language this word means ‘great water’). There had been quite a lot of rain in the preceding month, so some of the sluices were open and I was amazed at the immense power I was witnessing. Much of this water flow really is harnessed and converted into hydro-electric power. I was left wondering about the machinery within the bowels of those great walls that make it all happen.
St Teresa of Avila, co-founder of the Carmelites

I have always had a fascination for those men and women who find themselves called to serve in the Church; those with a religious vocation. What amazes me most is that at a time when the world seems to be losing its sense of focus and morality, the strictest of these religious orders are the ones which appear to be the most attractive. One such order is that of the Discalced Carmelites. These men and women dedicate themselves to a life of prayer. The nuns, in fact, are an enclosed order who follow an entirely contemplative life.

By now you must be wondering what it is that I am trying to say? These two pictures seem to have nothing in common. Yet, the thread that connects them is one of unseen power. Without the giant machinery within the walls of the great Gariep Dam, those sluices would not open and the massive force of water would not be translated into electric power. Without the selfless devotion displayed in the prayer ministry of those Carmelite nuns many of those who serve carrying out the work of the Church would not feel themselves sustained.

What does this have to do with us at Toastmasters?

Everything. For most of us, when we arrive at our Club meetings, the venue has already been set up. Did you know that the venue we use serves another purpose during the day? Our Sergeant-at-Arms and one or two other members arrive early to set the venue up for us so that we are ready to go.

Every year, approximately ten schools in Port Elizabeth benefit from Youth Leadership Training courses. On top of that, various Speechcraft courses are run, either for corporations like ABSA, or for the general public. Who does this and what do they get for doing it?

Members of your club run the various courses, and other members assist them in a variety of ways by doing educational speeches or by helping with evaluations. Any payment that occurs is for the benefit of the clubs concerned. It is money from courses like these that enable clubs to subsidize the fees that we pay bi-annually to Toastmasters International. This money also allows our Executive members and those who are participating in the Speech Competitions to attend the Conferences that are held twice a year.

So, back to the two pictures and Toastmasters. I want to pay tribute here to the unsung heroes in every club who make things happen. If it were not for you, our experience of Toastmasters would be a pale shadow of the vibrant, active club that it is.

That said, I want to encourage members to enter the speech competition which will be held at our next meeting on Tuesday 26 March. Two competitions will take place, namely the International Contest (English Prepared Speech). Members must be CC6 to enter. Speeches are 5-7 minutes long. The other contest is an Evaluation Contest. A model speech is evaluated by contestants, who are then judged on their adjudication.

Winners of these contests will compete in the Area Contest (all the clubs in PE) on 6 April. After that, the Division contest will be held (against winners from Grahamstown and East London) – and the victors will represent Division E at the District Competition at MaxiCon. Please give your name to Alison Immelman today!

For those of you who are going away for the holidays, may you have a real rest.
Until next time

Ricky Woods

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