December is the season to give. Although we don’t celebrate Christmas, there is a local tradition where one brings gifts to celebrate a friend or family’s move to a new home. Commonly known as the housewarming gift, this allows one to express their deepest wishes and joy.

On December 7th, GWBI’s first monastery building, the South Lotus Hall, opened its doors to the public through an Island-wide open house. As we guided the influx of visitors into the warmth of the new Hall, a cereal box suddenly appeared in front of us out of nowhere. Much to our surprise, the box was filled with potatoes. Lined with a thin layer of dirt, they looked like they’d come fresh out of the fields.
“The very best! PEI potatoes!” said a tall man in blue plaid as he eagerly handed it to us.

After a short introduction from Abbess Venerable Rong-Kwang, we soon learnt that he’s a local pastor who got to know the Buddhist community through a local event. Having expressed much interest in life at the monastery, he’d invited his friend to attend today’s event as soon as he’d received the invitation.

A housewarming gift that’d caught us by surprise, it not only fully demonstrated both the kindness and simplicity of Island nature but also brought two completely different culture and languages together.