August 2018 marked the ground-breaking ceremony for GWBI’s South Lotus Hall. After 17 consecutive months of non-stop construction, our new home and very first monastery building is finally ready. Before the big move-in, we’ve decided to share our joy and excitement with everyone through an Island-wide open house. Had it not been for all of you who’ve supported us these past years, our dream would’ve stayed a dream.
December 7th, 2019. At minus seven degrees, the wind chills you to your bones. Yet this doesn’t seem to stop the crowd. Looking out from the second floor, we’re elated to spot at least 40 vehicles waiting anxiously in the parking lot long before the event’s opening hours.
“Wow, this is absolutely beautiful!” Many react as they step into the brightly-lit foyer of the new Hall.
“Come in!” “It’s so nice to see you!” “Please sign our guestbook!” Warmth has never been so welcoming.
Guests are then guided through four different exhibitions on the ground floor. Through films and posters, they learn about life at the monastery, our education system, why one chooses to become a nun, and even the process of becoming one. “What is a Geshe?” “You build snowmen too?” We were met with a flurry of questions.
On the second floor, guests get a short tour of the dormitories. While many were curious about the comfort and warmth of the bedding, others took this opportunity to educate their own kids through the neatly stacked clothing within the closets. “Eight in a room? What do you do if your roommate snores?” Some wondered in awe.
Last, the tour comes to an end in the basement where the Dining Hall was located. There, guests learn about daily meals at the monastery and heartwarming encounters of how this land and its people have nurtured us by hand.
After the tour, guests were welcomed by handmade cookies, spring rolls, refreshments and live performances by Violinist Ed Wang and his family of musicians. From lively world-renown pieces such as Joy to the World to hymns written by Master Zhen-Ru that brought on a sense of serenity, everyone listened attentively, fully mesmerized by his pieces.
“We can’t help it. We just love music!” Some said, their eyes brimming with tears.
Though 800’s just a small part of the local community, South Lotus Hall’s open house gave us the wonderful opportunity to express our deepest gratitude and sincerity. Whether you’re an old friend or new, we’re glad to have you with us as we celebrate this auspicious day.
“We’re so happy to have you as neighbours!”
It may’ve been a cold wintery night but what touched the most us were the smiles across everyone’s faces as they walked out the door.