I got up early today (as I have every day here - they start exceptionally early) and I was surprisingly not real tired because I had stayed up so late re-working my messages to fit better with the Kenyan culture. I wanted things to go smoother with the interpreter today. Now that I am here and have spoken three times, I see how I need to re-work some things to make it more understandable between our cultures.
At the end, I called Mama Taifa to lead prayer. Wow. Things erupted. Tears everywhere. My own face was red as a beet from crying and I don't think I stopped blowing my nose for an hour. It was intense. Again they said it was amazing how the Holy Spirit knew what was needed for the leaders at this time.
After the meeting we had tea. The Kenyans have tea each day mid morning. (These are really my kind of people!) We have tea with toast every morning for breakfast and then again at mid morning.
Then Barb took me to her office at the school. We got on the computer and I retyped all my messages that I had completely reworked the night before. We ate lunch after that - rice, cabbage, a piece of stewed chicken and tomatoes, in her office and talked. Good stuff...the food, but the conversation better.
After that I went to organize my room and get ready for service. I came up to the tent before the service. Some of the "big boys" (thats what young adults are called here - big girls and big boys) from Mathare Valley A/G were up at the tent running sound and setting up. They had their keyboard. I sat down and played and they sang for me. It was amazing how things flow although we are from different cultures.
Service started late because registration took forever. Unfortunately the lights and sound went out as we started but the worship went on without missing anything and it was amazing. When I walked into the tent it was a feeling like I have never had before. Just a huge mass of people praising God so passionately, you couldn't distinguish any person from another as they prayed, it was just as the sound of rolling waters or a wind blowing. As I was standing there, my first thought was, "I need to get saved." Allow me to explain. You really think you are saved until you come here. Then you see the intensity of these people and you realize you know squat about God, church or much else of the world. Your whole perspective changes. This is a loaded topic that I can't fully explain but I will just say that I stood there during worship thinking, "what in the world do I have to say to these people?" and "God, please save me now because I am nothing in comparison to them."
These leaders are amazing and that's the understatement. Mama Taifa (their national women's leader) was the first night's speaker. Her message was about Jael and seizing opportunity. What a prayer time at the end. I thought the sky would open up and Jesus would come back right there, the people were so intense.
Something funny happened in the opening service. They have an interpreter for me at all times. She speaks for me, and tells me also what others say. It's not always the same person but they always provide someone. My interpreter this night was Gladys, a pastor's wife and district leader. She was interpreting as we sat in the service and Mama Taifa was talking. She was talking about spiritual stuff and then she said, "and we're going now." I just sat there listening. Then she said, "we're going now." I was thinking she meant "we're going to a new level now" or "God is taking us somewhere" or something like that but what she meant was "you (Pastor Deanna) and I are going up to the stage now". But I didn't get that. So finally she grabbed my arm and said 'WE ARE GOING NOW!" and started pulling me up. When I realized I was the one who was going now, up to the stage and that all eyes were on me I had a look of shock and the whole crowd roared with laughter because they realized I did not understand the interpretation and was shocked. We had a good laugh about that.
Mama Taifa had just called me up to introduce me and greet the people before she spoke.
Tonight after service we had dinner (they eat late at night after the meetings) and I had tea with Debbie Barthalow - a missionary here - and we talked for a long time. I love all the missionaries here and have a good opportunity to spend time with them. Time to study and sleep. It's my big day tomorrow!
I had the cell alarm set but didn't need it. The praise and worship woke me up again. They are so loud I can hear them while I'm in the shower. Of course the windows are open so that helps but still, I am pretty far from the tent. They get up before sunrise and there are a mass of women in there just shouting to God, praying. It sound like rolling waters...what an awesome sound. You may wonder why I am not up there in the tent. The answer to this is, no American can keep up with these Kenyans. None of the missionaries were up there either. I am telling you they pray and praise all night, every night. There are times we are in a service (one just rolls into the next) and a leader comes and gets me from my place in the tent (after I speak) and says, "come, I'm taking you to eat" because if they don't, we never would eat. Usually the leaders take turns going in and out because there is always something going on.
This morning when I got up the water was scalding. They forgot to turn on the cold water as well (it's not available all day long - too costly) so I couldn't get in the shower. I just stuck my head in the sink and made do with washing my hair that way and then sponged up. Got dressed and headed to breakfast in the leaders room where I ate with Pastor Jane Nuthu. We went to first service where she interpreted for me. I have had several interpreters here but with Jane it's different. They are all good but she's a pro. She could do this for a living. It's like a hand in glove with her and I like we have always known each other.
She interpreted for me as I preached. I spoke on healing from sexual abuse, domestic abuse, and sexual sin. It was like a Holy Ghost bomb went off in the place. They have told me no leader has been bold enough to come in and preach on this. It is the main problem among women in Kenya. I thought I would address it first and call them for healing. As I called them to the altar I sang, "Say the name of Jesus...say the name of Jesus...that can calm your fears and dry your tears and wipe away your pain..." The altars were packed. Before the song was even over, I couldn't hear myself sing. Women were crying out, pushing against the stage so much we couldn't even come down to pray for them. We had to just reach out from the stage and pray for them. It was like a roar was in the place for the longest time. I have not felt the presence of God to this degree in my life when ministering before. Jane stayed with me the entire time on the stage, interpreting every word I said, or walking with me as I prayed. We couldn't reach many women for the sheer mass numbers but we would press in, touch heads and hands. Then we came back to the microphone. I would shout, "The bondage of sexual abuse is broken in the name of Jesus!" and she would shout it after me...and so on. We just worked together like we have been doing this for 100 years or something. Whenever I talked or sang, so did she. Mama Taifa came up when we turned it over to her (just by pointing at her because the room was still full of weeping and wailing) and she hugged me for a while and just kept saying, "thank you, thank you for what you have brought to Kenya." She took the mic said, "God has sent us a prophet from America." She went on and on about it - about the significance of the message. While she was doing that Barb Kuert walked across the stage with the camera taking pictures of the mass of women at the altar and she just looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, "powerful...powerful..."
In the afternoon, Co-Pastor Jane Tembu, a pastor and also the General Secretary of Kenya's wife, was the speaker. About 50 women were filled with the Holy Ghost. The morning services went on for about 5-6 hours. By the time this was over I was absolutely drenched. (in sweat) Barb said, "go back and take a shower...the water should be fine now and you'll need to be prepared for tonight's service. " There is hardly any time in between services because they go so long. They are basically all day. I went back and sure enough the cold water was on so I mixed the hot and cold as well as I could and stood there. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. Wonderful.
Last night the women were amazed that I was staying with them overnight. Most speakers stay in a hotel but I wanted to be with them. The leader that opened up the service said, "ladies, our speaker has CHOSEN to stay with us. She wants to be with us! She wants to eat our food! She wants to put up with our mosquitos! She wants to put up with the conditions we sleep in!" The crowd just roared with applause. They were so blessed that I was staying here. I had no idea, many speakers do not. It is my delight to. I wouldn't miss it for the world. They do this all the time. What's it to me for four days? If you don't stay here you don't really have the experience. Every women in the world needs to stay here at least once, I'm convinced. You haven't lived until you do.
I showered and cleaned up and got ready for the night service. This time I was preaching on the power of Pentecost.
In other news today, the "Big Boys" from Mathare Valley A/G have been helping me so much. With carrying things, serving me food, doing whatever. What a delight they are. They live in the slums but they are SO HAPPY. My interpreters have been great - Gladys, Esther, Mama Joshua, and Pastor Jane...they are all fantastic but Jane is the one I work with best.
We have been eating standard Kenyan fare each day. Rice with beans, cabbage, ungali - my favorite food so far - it is like a corn mush and you put the juice over it. For myself and the missionaries and executives they have given us a piece of chicken each day. Only wealthy people here eat chicken unless it's a special occasion like Christmas. But they save up and prepare for this with guests and their leaders. I realize this is a big sacrifice for them just to give us meat for a few days. I don't like that all the other mass of women here are eating rice and a vegetable while I eat meat each day but it is the way they expect it to be and would be offended if you do not accept it. The always honor the guest. It is their custom and very important to them.
Speaking of customs in the first service, Pastor Jane got up and made an announcement to everyone, telling them how to go to the bathroom. I'm not kidding. Evidently with all the different tribes here they go in different ways. (Remember the hole in the ground I told you about?) Well, evidently they all go in different ways and some have even broken the toilets here trying to go "their way". So they had to tell everyone the proper way to go while here at the school. (Which is the American way). I have never been in a women's meeting before where the leader had to explain in great detail how to go to the bathroom and sit down on the toilet seat. Interesting!!! So cute.
The gift giveways from my ladies are a huge hit. Barb Kuert has been passing them out each service. They decided on their own to do them just like we do at our church for princess luncheon. The leaders come down and stand across the front and they call numbers and pass out the gifts to women in the room. They have been so excited and doing it before each service. The ladies were SO grateful, it was amazing. I only wish I could have brought many many more. Nex time.
Later on...........after night service...
Bonnie Ness (missionary) came to get me for the evening service. We went to the tent and as usual worship was in progress. It's like walking into an atmosphere like you've never experienced no matter how many times you've been in church before. Tonight I spoke on the power of Pentecost and how to live a Pentecostal lifestyle. It was amazing. The altar time was so powerful...Mama Taifa got up again and said, "the prophet has spoken!!!" I had talked as a side note in my message about the fact that the same way they were treating me as a guest is the same way they should be treating their pastor's wife and their co-pastors. Many pastors in Kenya are honored but their wives are left out or not looked upon the same. One of the pw's had shared with me her hurt over this the night before. In my message, I worked it in and I had the co-pastors and pastor's wives stand and I recognized them as Kenya's heroes and asked the convention to honor them. I spoke to them about what it means to honor your pastor's wife/co-pastor and why. There was much emotion over this. At the end Mama Taifa came up and said, "this is a prophetic word that has been needed for this nation..." She called for the people to pray and repent of the sin of not honoring the pastor's wives. This just broke something in the place. One pastor's wife leaned over to a missionary and said, 'DO YOU REALIZE WHAT A MIRACLE THIS IS FOR THIS TO BE HAPPENING RIGHT NOW IN THIS NATION?" I have heard over and over again what this has meant to these women.
After the service I ate dinner with all the leaders, then talked to Jane Nuthu and Debbie Barthalow for a while. I stayed late after and counseled two pastor's wives, Gladys and Ruth. It was a good time and we had powerful prayer afterwards. I am so glad to see these ladies countenance change. You can tell they have fresh hope.
Time to head to bed. Gotta study, crash and get up early to preach again.
Early this morning I was up before the alarm again as I heard the roar of the prayer and the praise. There is no way one from America can fathom or keep up with this. These people are amazing. They literally press in to God 24/7. I have to get some rest in between or my head is banging like crazy. How they live this way I do not know but they are so intense for God, I have never experienced anything like it. Like I said, I'm the speaker and supposedly this anointed "prophet" but every service before I get up I'm saying, "Lord, I need to get saved again............"
I showered and dressed and headed to breakfast to meet with the leaders. As soon as I came in the "big boys" from Mathare were ready to serve me. I will miss them so much. I got a picture with them today to cherish and remember their faces always until I come back next year. (Oh by the way, the General Superintendent was here today and has already invited me back!)
I ate breakfast with Jane Nuthu and said, "I'm not leaving your side because you WILL be my interpreter for the last service." The thing is, usually whoever is nearest you who is the best interpreter steps in, not necessarily who you work best with. If I want Jane to interpret, I just need to keep her right by me. So I did. We walked in together while the roar of praise was going on, and took our seats together. The atmosphere is such you just wonder how on earth Jesus has not heard these cries and come back yet.
When I got up to speak this morning Mama Taifa introduced me. She went on and on about what it's meant for me to come. When she said, "will you welcome our speaker..." the crowd just roared and stood. After they sat one women stood and raised her hands and let out this shout that was like some kind of a tribal scream or something (a scream of delight) like, "I LOVE YOU" type scream." I said, "I'm taking that woman back with me to America!" Again the crowd laughed and clapped. I said, "I'm serious, because my people don't greet me like that when I come to the pulpit." They laughed their heads off when I said that and then the woman stood up again and let out the scream AGAIN. It was awesome. Then they just kept responding as I said, "I love you...I'll miss you all so much...although I miss my family and can't wait to get back to see them, I will also cry when I leave you because I have grown to love you so much and my heart already wants to come back." They just kept responding with their clapping and their love.
I preached this morning on the call to be spiritual mothers in the faith. Again the message was flowing powerfully under the anointing and the electricity in the spirit was just flowing like a current between Jane and myself. Whatever I do she mirrors right down to jumping, waving my bible, whatever - she's like a carbon copy just in Swahili.
We had a lot of fun today with my message as well as it being something that was a shouting/clapping type thing. I took my time more than any other service. Most of the speakers have been about 2 hours and sometimes more and the services go about 5 hours. I figured, hey, this American can do it too! The end of the service was powerful once again. The whole "women pressing the stage thing" and us trying to get to them. I went myself on the platform and reached out to as many as I could but left Jane at the pulpit to lead in Swahili as I prayed for the women.
Mama Taifa came to the pulpit again. She said, "have we been blessed by our speaker from Amercica or WHAT?" She said, "WHY DID IT TAKE A PROPHET FROM AMERICA TO TELL US THIS?" She was exhorting the women...God knew what we needed...this is a brand new thing that we have heard for the women of Kenya...she also said, "have you ever heard anyone take John 17 and teach it that way before?"
We had another few hours of church with the General Superintendent coming up to preach right after me. (yes, they do that! they go right from one several hour service into another.) So we did that and he had very kind words too. He said, "you (meaning me) must come back to Kenya!"
We had lunch this afternoon and I ate with the leaders and then we took pictures together. One of the district superintendent's wives came up to me and was crying. She said, "you will never know how much your ministry has meant to me. It was life changing. I have to do something for you." And she handed me a shopping bag. In it was a beautiful blouse and a shawl. It's perfect for me. I was so touched. Barb started crying and told me that I have NO IDEA what this superintendents wife has been through. So much hardship in her district.
Another district superintendent's wife came up and told me the same thing and she wants to keep in touch with me by email. Many of them do. (And remember, this is a conference for the whole NATION with the general superintendent and his wife here as well as the district superintendent's wives from 26 different districts here!!! So I have been ministering to all of them in the leaders meetings and the general services.)
This week is such that I can't even in human terms adequately describe it and these blogs have only scratched the surface believe it or not. I want to come back and in addition to whatever else, be at Mathare A/G next year. Jane and I have been talking about it and I approached Barb about the subject and will talk with Bill when we are out tomorrow. It's hard to believe this is the last day of the conference and I fly back to America tomorrow. It will be a 33 hour trip home. I'm so missing my family and my church and I can't wait to see them. But I have to admit, a piece of my heart will be in Kenya.