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02 October 2014

Durban Regional Convention

I sit here late on Wednesday evening writing while I hear the gentle sound of the happy frogs after all the rain we have had this week. Its so nice to finally have the rain here. The air is cooler and cleaner, the grass has turned green overnight. And for me personally, it is truly a Godsend because now our horses will have food, just time for this weekend. Everything is good.

This weekend?
Well, I can honestly say that my whole body hurts from head to toe tonight. My arms and legs are stiff as ever, and I am thoroughly exhausted. But happy and satisfied.
Why, you may ask, and what has that got to do with this weekend? And what is so special about this weekend?

This weekend is the Regional Convention of Jehovah's Witnesses in Durban at the majestic Moses Mabhida stadium. Because this is so special, I am publishing this blog post a day early.  We are expecting upwards of 20,000 delegates to attend, there will be talks, demonstrations, experiences and re-enactments given over a course of Friday, Saturday and Sunday in English, Zulu and South African Sign Language.
You have likely heard about this special event, for the last 3 weeks in most of the province of Kwazulu Natal invitations have been distributed, perhaps you got it delivered to your door, dropped in your post-box, perhaps a co-worker or schoolmate gave you one, maybe someone sent it to you electronically, or perhaps you got it on the street. This is so special as it is not a singular event, but something that has been happening for some months and will continue to happen for about another month in hundreds of cities around the world. If you are able to, please please do attend!

Why am I so sore and stiff? And so satisfied? 
Well for the last two days I have spent the entire day at the stadium as a volunteer. I have had the privilege of working in the sound department setting up the speakers and running wires and pretty much helping in the ginourmous job of turning a soccer stadium into an oversized Kingdom Hall. My job had included carrying many heavy items (speakers, brackets and poles, wires) to various places around the stadium, removing chairs in various spots and stalling speaker brackets, connecting wires for speakers and numerous other jobs. Its been a lot of physically hard work, and many kilometres of walking and climbing so many stairs. But above all, the last two days have been incredibly satisfying. I have been doing this in amongst (I would hazard a guess of about 400 people) my spiritual brothers and sisters. None of us are paid anything for this, we do it purely out of love for God, his great name and for our "neighbour" (ie. all other human beings). While a team of us have been working on sound system, there have been hundreds of other good spirited volunteers setting up stages, setting up big screens, sweeping isles and washing chairs, cleaning bathrooms and putting up baptism pools.

The Stadium
But there is one particular thing I really want to share with you about this convention and the beautiful venue that we have for the first time this year that proves that Jehovah God is really with us.
The convention committee (a group of responsible brothers who have the weighty task of making the convention happen, with God's help of course) has been trying for years to arrange a meeting with the stadium officials so that we can have our convention at this stadium, to no avail. Every time they tried to get a meeting, they were turned away. Eventually they managed to secure a meeting with the stadium officials. The meeting was held out in the stands, and the stadium officials were not seeming very keen on the whole aspect of having 20,000 plus Jehovah's Witnesses coming here. However the brothers had prayed about it, and stuck it out with the meeting, starting with showing the stadium management a short video on the Jehovah's Witness Conventions around the world. After watching the video, the stadium management were suddenly a lot more willing to discuss the possibility of having the convention there. The meeting ended with the stadium officials telling the convention committee that they will email them within the next few days.
After a few days they got an email saying that they could in fact use the stadium, however they would need to use the stadium's own contractors for cleaning and catering. The brothers decided to leave things a little before approaching that subject.
As Jehovah's Witnesses, we always have volunteers who come to clean the convention venue before we have our conventions, we each bring our own small packed lunches from home. However a couple of days later, without request, the stadium management emailed again, this time saying that they had contacted Kings Park Stadium (the one we always have had conventions at) and had confirmed what they had seen in the video, that JWs volunteer and clean the stadium before hand and that the other stadium said the JWs make it the cleanest it is ever every year. So, if we have the volunteers, we do not need to hire their cleaners.

Then a couple of days later, the stadium management again emailed, saying that they also noticed in the video that all the delegates brought their own lunches in little cooler bags, so as long as the convention does not hire outside caterers and everyone brings their own lunches, then the JWs will not be required to hire the stadium's caterers.
Oh, and while they are about it, they also said that they saw on the video that everyone has those lapel badges, so as long as delegates have the lapel badges as identification for the three days of the convention, the security will let them in. That particular point though has had many of us worried, because we have been inviting thousands of people to join us at the convention, however there will be hospitality kiosks outside all the entrances to the convention where visitors can check in and get a lapel badge.

Now if that doesn't show God's power and spirit in this convention, I dont know what does.

So I will again invite you, please attend at least one session of this very important event this weekend. And if you are, please drop me a line and I'll come find you and we can chat.