The Casuarina Uniting Congregation and the Galiwin’ku Uniting Congregation have a sister church relationship which has been organized through the non-indigenous and indigenous Presbyteries of the Northern Synod. Some of us who worship at Casuarina have lived and worked at Galiwin’ku and retain strong relationships with people there.
A church visit in 2011 was organized and 21 people left Darwin to visit Galiwin’ku on Wednesday June 29th. We travelled by four-wheel drive vehicles via Katherine and along the Central Arnhem Road to Gapuwiyak with an overnight stay at Mainoru Roadhouse.
After an overnight stay at Gapuwiyak, the group was flown to Galiwin’ku on 4 Missionary Aviation Fellowship flights on Friday July 1Three days and nights were spent at Galiwin’ku before the group returned to Gapuwiyak on Monday July 4 on MAF planes and then drove back to Darwin with an overnight stop near the Goyder River.
The aim of the visit was to develop our relationship with the people of the Galiwin’ku Congregation and to encourage them by our presence.
There were many highlights during the visit.
- We were generously invited to camp outside the home of Shirley Nirrpurandji at Gapuwiyak. Nirrpurandji is a great friend of a number of our group and we loved her hospitality.
- We were invited to attend a fellowship gathering on the basketball court at Gapuwiyak on the night we were there. It was a wonderful time of worshipping and sharing together, especially as God has been touching the lives of many young men and boys. They presented items involving music and dance and then brought a banner they had made and gave it to community leaders. The four young people in our group also contributed an item in dance.
- At Galiwin’ku we were able to have a look around the community and meet people, walk to some of the beaches, visit the Craft Centre and enjoy a barbeque put on by some Fijian church members.
- On the Sunday we shared in a wonderful worship service in the church. We were beautifully led in worship by the women’s choir; our 2 young women presented an item in dance; we presented the Community Minister Timothy Buthimang with a Communion Set and Wendell preached. At the end of the service our visiting group was prayed for by the local people and then we prayed for them.
- After church we heard from East Arnhem Shire Councillors Kaye Thurlow and Mavis Danganbarr about how we can be prayerfully supportive of the community at Galiwin’ku. Kaye gave us a written summary of what has happened as a result of the Federal Government’s Intervention and what we can pray for and take action on. Danganbarr urged us to pray for her which we did then and will continue to do.
- We then moved to the Translation Centre where Wangarr, Djawut, Yurranydjil, Ngandama and Margaret Miller showed us the great things they are doing in Bible translation and Scripture-in-use work. We were highly impressed by these presentations and also became aware of the need for more space for the team to work in.
- Later in the afternoon we drove to Dhayirri which is an outstation close to a beach about 20 minutes drive from Galiwin’ku. We had a marvellous time walking on the beach, sharing a meal with the families who were there, and then enjoyed a special time of worship and sharing with them.
- Our trip home went smoothly. At our final night of camping out near the Goyder River we sat around a beautiful campfire and shared stories of the weekend and gave thanks to God for a wonderful experience.
We agreed that the aim of the visit was well achieved and there is plenty of scope for further such visits. One of the extra benefits of the trip was the way we got to know each other better and were able to appreciate one another’s gifts and friendship.
We are very grateful to the staff of Missionary Aviation Fellowship for their help in flying us across to Galiwin’ku. We were also blessed by those who provided us with accommodation at Galiwin’ku and by those who welcomed us so warmly.