KEKAHA — For Debra Hookano of Kekaha, attending the Jehovah’s Witnesses convention is an annual way to re-charge her battery.
“When I go to these conventions and hear messages straight from Bible, it’s a message of hope that helps me to really see we have a positive future to look forward to,” she said. “I look around and see my neighbors — a lot of people have given up hope that things are going to improve.”
Hookano will be one of about 1,000 Kauai Jehovah’s Witnesses expected to attend the convention at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall this week.
“You cannot run and cannot hide,” she said. “We have about 800 of us that go house to house all over the island, from Kekaha to Hanalei.”
Hookano said the convention also empowers people to take an introspective look at their lives.
“We also learn practical lessons, which has helped our marriage to be stronger, be better parents and grandparents,” she said.
Pomai Cano of Waimea said the convention is a way to gather with the other Jehovah’s Witnesses on the island.
“It’s something we look forward to as a family,” she said. “Other people look forward to Christmas. But we don’t celebrate Christmas, so this is our way to come together.”
The mother of five said attending the convention has made her marriage and family stronger.
“It’s had such an impact on the happiness of my marriage. And we’ve been successful in teaching our children moral values from Bible principles,” she said.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses convention began worldwide in May and runs until December, said Bill Driver, the Kauai media representative for Jehovah’s Witnesses.
On the Garden Island, the three-day convention will begin Friday at 9:20 a.m. On Friday and Saturday, it goes until 5 p.m. On Sunday, it wraps up at 3:30 p.m.
It is free and open to the public. On Sunday at 11 a.m., there will be a talk designed specifically for members of the public.
The theme of this year’s gathering is “Don’t Give Up,” and the program includes discourse, interviews and short videos.
“The fact is that today, there is stress everywhere. People in every walk in life are throwing hands in the air saying it’s too hard,” Driver said. “The Bible provides solid hope for now and of the future. And that helps us hang in there with our fingers and toes until then.”
Driver, who lives in Kekaha, is especially excited for the showing of the three-part feature film “Remember the Wife of Lot,” which will be shown every day of the convention.
Hookano discovered the faith when she was a teenager.
“I wasn’t raised in any particular religion,” she said. “I had questions, so I looked at various religions and what I found was that in some religions, they just said do whatever makes you feel good, but that doesn’t necessarily mean what God would want for us.”
She appreciates that when she asked other Jehovah’s Witnesses questions, they would tell her what the Bible says, not their opinion.
“When I saw that, and saw the contrast with other religions,” she said. “Like going to war — Jehovah’s Witnesses will never go to war. Jesus said love our neighbors. How can we go to war if we love our neighbors?”
Cano said she made the choice as a teenager to become a Jehovah’s Witness.
“The Bible’s hope made sense, and for me, that was the reality,” she said. “There’s nothing else that was offered to me that could be what the Bible offers — everlasting life and resurrection.”
Hookano said understanding that there’s hope is simple.
“God wants us to be happy, so he gives us guidelines to live by, and if we really live by that, we’re happier people,” she said.