Happy Chinese New Year!
One year ago, we celebrated Chinese New Year in Italy. Our Asian students prepared a special celebration for us. We were invited to help with decorations, make dumplings, and then enjoy a meal before watching a presentation on the holiday. And--we were strongly advised--we must wear red.
Our students then fanned out into town, found a small Chinese community, and invited them to join us.
When the day came and classes were over, I went to the cafeteria--wearing red--to see how the decorating was going and make some dumplings. Love dumplings.
I passed our main meeting room - set up with tables to do Chinese calligraphy. Doorways and doors were filled with Scripture blessings in Chinese characters on red crepe paper. The cafeteria was a beehive--decorations being hung, the kitchen in full swing. I joined one table and made some pitiful looking dumplings while the students politely instructed me how to pinch properly.
When the doors opened, the dining room filled--not only many from the Chinese community, but refugees, Italian staff, and a few church friends. Our facility manager gave a short greeting/blessing/prayer in Italian and then the trays of food came out. After a month of Italian, we were all ready for a change of pace and our guests were elated. I sat with one family )with one English-speaker) and enjoyed their astonishment and nods of approval.
In time, we made our way down to the main meeting room, and heard some funny, wonderful videos on the holiday, customs, traditions. Sweets were distributed as we moved to the calligraphy tables. Sheets of blessings from the Psalms were distributed for people to choose from.
I don't know when, in the midst of our very tight schedule, our students were able to accomplish all this, but am I glad they did! I learned a lot, and got to witness their love, hospitality, and generosity for us all. Relationships deepened as our students continued to cultivate the community over three months. During our final festival week, the family below prayed to receive Christ. Wow. Well done, good and faithful servants.
This remains one of my favorite memories of 2018. The students returned to their homelands or participated in short term outreaches. Those in Hong Kong are now gathering with other Incarnate grads from previous years, exhibiting together, visiting with one another, and plotting an arts ministry. One young man, Cheong (featured below), got married, and several of the student attended the wedding. My partners May and Dileep just returned from meeting with them as we discuss possibilities for Incarnate in Asia. Can we find the right venue in HK? I have no doubt--but do pray!