Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Djambarrpuyngu bible dedication weekend

Bible Dedication Celebration Weekend Galiwin'ku Elcho Island


People waving flags

Welcome signs were hanging from poles along the main street

bible translation center
Translation Center

Thanks to my new job I had the great privilege of Attending the Djambarrpunyngu bible dedication at Galiwin'ku on Elcho Island this weekend. The event marks the completion of thirty years translation work of the New Testament from English into Djambarrpunyngu (a Yolngu Language).

Elcho Island is located in the far North East of Arnhem Land. Arnhem land is an Aboriginal Reserve in the Northern Territory of Australia and the traditional home of Yolngu Clans for 100's of generations.

This was the first time I have visited this part of Australia and it was a rare treat. Due to it's remoteness and the fact that it is in the middle of an Aboriginal reserve (Arnhem Land), most Balanda wouldn't have the opportunity to visit. (Not necessarily a bad thing for Yolngu)

marching with flags
Men dancing with flags (I wasn't sure about the significance of this)

running with flags
Kids running with flags

The community on Elcho went out of their way to make this event an incredibly moving, intense and unforgettable event for all who attended. Their hospitality was outstanding and the weekend was crammed with colours, music, food and a strong feeling of celebration. The community really came together, and visitors were made to feel welcome and included.

Bible translation team
Translation team and contributors

The event was a marathon of services, ceremonies and speeches beginning in the early afternoon on Saturday and running well into the night only to begin again at 9:30 on Sunday continuing until fairly late in the afternoon. There were a lot of people to be acknowledged and each was given an opportunity to share their experience, hopes and dreams. People mingled and chatted as mobs of kids, Yolngu and Balanda played in the sand. Everyone seemed happy and proud of this great achievement.

dancing with flags
Silk flags of all kinds of design

It seemed to me that the important thing about this weekend is that people in this community who have been Christians for many years; and who live in a town that came into existence as a Methodist Mission, now have the opportunity to read the Bible in their own language. I am not an expert on Christianity and have no idea how it has been presented to Yolngu people by Missionaries over the years. However surely it must be a liberating thing to be able to read or listen to the stories of a book that has had so much impact on their lives in a language that they truly understand.

cycle to the beach
Sam's old bike... I sent it over on the Barge and left it on the Island to be of use

shelter for the moment
Temporary shelter

I chose to camp at Elcho rather than be billeted to someones home. The opportunity to camp out in this amazing part of the world was impossible to resist. I wasn't disappointed! The camp site was on high ground with a perfect view overlooking a fantastic beach! The ground was flat and dry and the elevation and breeze meant there were no sand flies or mozzies! On Saturday night I rolled out my mat and slept comfortably on the ground, with the sound of the Arafura Sea lapping at the shore of a rarely visited beach and no city lights to obstruct my view of a perfect starry night.

view from camp
View from camp

For more photos see The Flying Bible Man's Photo gallery


Ian said...

G'day David... sounds like your life just keeps getting busier :-)

Kevin Murray said...

Thanks David for the wonderful images. It's great to see what is happening at the other end of the continent.

David J said...

G'day Ian, Reaching saturation point on the busy front. :P

Hey Kevin,
Yes, so much happening here. Some of it is actually pretty good stuff.
Wish I'd been less conservative with the camera.

Cookiemouse said...

Great pictures. Looks like you all had a fun time!