Sunday, November 23, 2008

Conference Highlights

Tuesday Night Opening



I was not supposed to preach on Tuesday night. The opening was scheduled for the General Superintendent and Mama Taifa, (pictured at right with her husband, and me), however as I was walking to the tent for the service, Mama Taifa said, “Deanna, would you be willing to preach instead?” I was a bit stunned for a moment as I didn’t expect it however I’m always ready. The question was…would Sue be ready to give her testimony on the opening night? I really wanted her to give it the first time I ministered. She agreed and was a real trooper about it. She did want to go back and change into another dress and Mama Taifa graciously gave us some extra time to get ready since after all she did ask me to preach 5 minutes beforehand!

Mama Taifa introduced me and I was so excited to greet the women again. I poured my love out to them and told them how much I have missed them. My heart really has longed so much to be there and it was almost surreal when I was.

I preached the message, “God of the Turnaround” based upon the life of Joseph of the Old Testament. It was about God moving miraculously in difficult situations and God turning around circumstances for our good that the devil meant for harm. I could hardly wait until the altar time, mostly for what would happen in these precious ladies lives, but also to see the reaction on Sue’s face when she saw how the people there respond. True to form, it was amazing. She was shocked at the intensity of the atmosphere and how hard they go after God.
I tried hard that night when I went to bed not to think about the fact that in three days it would be over.

Wednesday Highlights

You need no alarm at the Kenya Women ‘s Convention. The roar of them praying at 5 am does the trick every time. I always feel like a pitiful lazy American standing there putting on my make up or doing my hair and listening to them cry out to God. But I do it every time. Honestly I can’t keep up with them. Their prayer and praise is the backdrop of my taking a shower, getting dressed, and doing my hair and makeup each morning. I hum along with them, or say, “yes” and “amen” when they do.

There were different speakers during the day – Mama Taifa, the General Superintendent, and Pastor Jane Tembu. All were very powerful and we so enjoyed their messages. I preached the general session that night which was, “Take God at His Word.” We were believing for signs, wonders and miracles. Earlier in the week I had purchased a very dressy African outfit that I saw that I thought was totally “me” and I asked Pastor Jane Nuthu if I could borrow some jewelry. She hooked me up and it looked great. Everybody was amazed and said, “Deanna, it looks like that dress was literally created for you!” I must admit I loved it and was very comfortable in it. Speaking of Jane Nuthu I had put in a special request that she be my interpreter for everything I did this time. There is just no one like her. She truly has a gift of interpretation, not merely the spiritual gift but also with human language. She’s amazing. When I preach and she interprets, it’s like a hand in glove fit. She moves when I move, gestures when I do exactly…it’s like twins and she does it effortlessly. The message rolled along well under the power of the Holy Spirit and then I had worked with Jane ahead of time to help give special instructions for a healing line, with the Mama Sections (sectional WM leaders) and Mama Districts (District WM leaders) and myself laying hands on the women and believing for healings and miracles. Even though we presented it in an organized fashion, that’s sort of an impossibility in this setting because the altars get so jammed every night and you just have to do what you can do to lay hands on as many as possible and move among countless people who are crowded in for a touch. I love hearing them pray and cry out to God. It’s like the sound of a waterfall when they pray loud, and when they are all praying softly such as during communion it almost sounds like thousands of bees. Hopefully the video footage we took will help to show others just how miraculous it is. Once we edit I plan to post here on the blog.

After a great service, I did eat dinner with the leaders (we ate late night each night) and socialize a bit but needed to get back to my room to the quiet so I could study and pray in preparation to be the first speaker the next morning. Right after we ate, however the electricity was out on the campus so Barb gave me a flashlight to study and pray by.

Again I looked out the window as I sat in my room, out towards the big tent where the conference is held and realized…two more days and it’s over.

Thursday Highlights

Again we woke up to the sound of prayer. I was so excited about the morning’s message as I was getting ready and listening to them go after God. I knew the Lord was going to show up that morning and literally out-do Himself.

I preached a message called, “Not Without My Sister.” All heaven broke loose. Really indescribable unless you were there, or unless you watch the video we’re going to edit and put on in a week or two’s time. The place just got so overwhelmed in the Spirit of God. I turned it back over to Mama Taifa after leading the altar time and she was just weeping into her handkerchief and could not speak for quite a while. It took a long time for the place to simmer down and stayed intense for so long. What a morning we had. It’s one of the best memories of my life remembering what God did. Sue video taped that entire altar time and captured it beautifully and I can’t wait to share it.

On Thursday night after the last session which was the General Superintendent preaching and him leading in communion, they honored me and Sue. First they gave Sue an authentic African outfit and she put it on with the headpiece and they went bonkers. I was so delighted and I know it absolutely blew her away! They thanked her for sharing her testimony and told her how powerful it was and how it made such a difference in many women’s lives. Then they called me up and said how much it meant to them that I came back and what a family member I have grown to be, and how powerful the time of ministry was…also thanked my family and church for sending me and a bunch of other things…it becomes surreal when they start talking like this and I just get so emotional. They presented me with a beautiful African dress and headpiece. Mama Taifa helped me it on and they went crazy and then Mama Jane presented me with yet another outfit – this time a three piece outfit with headpiece. They put that one right on top of the other one, and they went a little crazy again. By this time I was wearing three outfits on top of one another. They were clapping profusely as they are prone to do and I was getting ready to exit the platform and one of the ladies from the Masai tribe ran up to the stage and held out a necklace and said, “up to the General Superintendent!” and I looked at her puzzled. I didn’t know what she wanted and felt awkward about going up to the Gen. Supt. I didn’t want to be out of order. I kept standing on the edge of the stage with the Masai woman and then Mama Taifa realized what she wanted and came running over with the microphone. She said, “Pastor Deanna, this is a special presentation from the Masai tribe! They are presenting you with this gift they made you and want to present this to you with our General Superintendent!” The whole place erupted in massive applause and I really started crying. This is a very special thing for those who may not realize it. I was so touched. After church that night a pastor from Buru Buru came up to me and said, “we must give you a new African name that reflects that you are accepted into the family by all. He renamed me, “Deanna Ole Wanjiku (Ole is Masai, and Wanjiku is Kikuyu). Everytime somebody said it or I introduced myself that way everyone would double over laughing but said, “that’s right, you’re part of the family now so we can call you that.) Jane’s maiden name is Wanjiku so she was especially tickled by it and said, “hey, we are sisters even more than we thought before…)

That night we had a lot of time for eating dinner together, socializing and sharing precious time and some tears as well. I knew in the morning we would all be going home and didn’t want to think about it.

Friday Highlights

Sue and I woke up and got showered and ready and just as we were almost ready Barb knocked on the door and said that Mama Taifa was on the bus ready to leave. Evidently her bus came a little early. We walked over to the bus and she wanted us to come on and say goodbye to her. I went in and she hugged me and started crying and just saying, “Oh Jesus…oh Jesus…oh Jesus…and praying.” Then I started crying and then all these women on the bus were crying and were saying, “we love you,” and “we’ll miss you” and I stood there and was crying all my make up off that I had just put on, thinking about how much I hate goodbyes.

After sobbing on the bus with the women and taking a few more pictures we headed inside to the leaders room where we ate breakfast and talked with Gladys and Ruth, and said goodbye to them as well as to Jane Tembu. Then Peter and Moses had come to say goodbye. Moses had a gift for me. I thanked them for the necklace they got me with my name on it. Then both of them said, “you are our mother.” (As if I wasn’t broken down to tears already!) I know Pastor Jane is their spiritual mother in Africa but I think they consider me their momma in the USA. I had the hardest time saying goodbye, of course but I know in faith I’ll see them again soon.
We left at that point and went to the Masai market with Bonnie, Barb, and Heather. It was a lovely day spent there eating and getting some gifts before going to the airport. After Masai market we went back to the compound to take a quick shower before our flight and Barb helped me pack just as she did last time. She is an absolute expert packer.

We said our tearful goodbyes to Bill and Barb at the airport and then headed in to get our boarding passes, go through immigration and security and then to Java House for our final bit of Africa fare before flying out. It was a 30 hour journey home and I slept a majority of the way but still don’t feel rested. I hardly slept the 10 days we were gone – it was just super packed and I was maximizing every moment. It was unforgettable.

I’m going again – as I’ve been invited again however we are in the process of hammering out the details. I’ll know more soon. I can’t wait to get back back to my African family. They are in my heart always and with each visit the bonds between us strengthen and I am determined to give a great part of my life for their growth, increase and encouragement.

Thanks so much for all who stood in the gap with us and believed for miracles. They happened!
I am going to start answsering emails again on Monday or Tuesday once I ease back into the routine again but for now, signing off is…Deanna Ole Wanjiku…

2 comments:

Melissa said...

Praising God with you! He is so faithful to show up in mighty ways. Can't wait to see the video!

Tara Sloan said...

So awesome!!!! I can't wait to hear more!!!