HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
Some 24,000 Jehovah's Witnesses are expected to attend their international convention in Honolulu over two weekends, making it one of the largest conventions this year in Hawaii.
Nearly 9,300 delegates from the mainland and ten countries from Asia, South America and Africa attended workshops and Sunday morning sessions at the Hawaii Convention Center, filling the 205,000 square-foot exhibition hall.
"There's eight thousand, nine thousand of us here, and all one united brotherhood, and we're just enjoying ourselves here," said Michael Canalita, a delegate from Ghana.
Canalita has visited Hawaii before. But several other delegates are here for the first time, and have been playing tourist.
"It was very thrilling for us to drive off and do the circle island tour and to see the ocean," said Ilori Ogoruvwe, visiting from Nigeria with his wife. "It was breathtaking."
"We want to say the people are beautiful, not only physically but also the way that they've been treating us has been great," said Alex Nunez of Mexico.
The delegates are expected to spend more than $100 million dollars over the two weekends of the convention.
There are 8,700 Jehovah's Witnesses in Hawaii, and many of them have been playing host for the visitors.
"One of the things that' I'm helping with is the evening programs, where we're putting on a full show for the friends," said Golden Piihohia. "A lot of our friends have learned hulas, Hawaii dances, some Samoan dances, Filipino dances."
The last time the Jehovah's Witness International Convention was held in Hawaii was 2009. That gathering drew 30,000.
Organizers expect 12,000 delegates for the second weekend of the convention, which begins Friday.