The Palmerston North team hosted a mooncake festival celebration at the Centre in Massey University on Saturday 10 Sept, in a combined effort between Massey, IPU and UCOL ISMNZ staff workers and volunteers (21 in total) to serve the Palmy community.
There were 45 guests, which were made out of students, researchers and their families from those of Chinese heritage, New Zealand, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Sri Lanka who came together to enjoy food, community, the family-like environment, explore the Christian faith and learn about other cultures.
The Mooncake Festival, which is also known as Mid-Autumn Festival in the Northern hemisphere, is celebrated by people from Chinese traditions. Traditionally, it marks the end of the harvest, and is a time of reunions and gathering with family to share a meal and enjoy community.
For the Palmy team, this event was an especially significant one, being the first time the staff workers and volunteers of the three tertiary institutions were collaborating together, and marked the end of many restrictions that had been brought on by COVID-19. There was a strong sense of new beginnings with new students on campus again.
Festivals and family occasions such as these are a time when internationals feel the pang of homesickness the strongest. It is also an opportunity for us in ISMNZ to introduce them to people in the New Zealand community who care for them, and services that will be helpful to them as they transition to living, studying and working here, and where they can hopefully find a community and belonging.
The theme of relationships in a family and reunions was discussed through a sharing of the biblical parable of the prodigal son. A short video and Christian message were also shared by a former missionary in Thailand introduce guests to the Christian faith.
Of course, the success of the event was due to a huge team effort, it had been organised by Isaac and Cecily Fung, Ben Poulton helped to advertise this event to the Massey post-graduate club and Brendon Chapple also helped to invite connections in IPU to come. Many others contributed to the set-up, preparations in the kitchen, and brought a big plate of food. Most of the desserts were contributed by Terry and Jenny McGrath, and together with the large carrot cake donated by the IPU Christian Fellowship group made the menu very delightful. The Wellington team, which had a Mooncake Festival celebration the day before also donated two extra boxes of mooncakes. Everyone played a part to help guests and their families feel welcomed and comfortable, and prayer partners and those who were unable to be present covered the event in prayer.
Even after the event had finished, many guests stayed to hang out, chat and play table tennis and foosball with new friends. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come, with more to come in the new year.
Isaac & Cecily Fung
Palmerston North Staff Workers, ISMNZ
Multimedia & Communications Manager, ISMNZ