FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE

Never before have so many feet tread Pitcairn soil at one time as when 380 passengers and crew landed from the Russian Ship, Mikhail Lermontov, out of Leningrad. The ship arrived off Bounty Bay at 8 a.m. on Sabbath, the fifth of February, 1983, and the passengers began disembarking by 10 am.

 

 

                      Mikail Lermontov―off Pitcairn Island  1999 Thurman C. Petty, Jr.               

Every able-bodied Pitcairn man worked all day in the longboats as they plied the quarter-mile of water between ship and shore, carrying scores of animated passengers to and from the landing. Most of the guests were retired people from England, but age did not keep them from getting to know the island, and all but a few climbed the Hill of Difficulty under their own power. Some who had health problems, however, were shuttled up the hill by local volunteers on three-wheelers.

Nearly a hundred guests assembled in the church at The Square to "Sing with the Pitcairners". But few islanders were available, as the men were busy with the boats, and most of the women were helping the tourists in hundreds of other ways. The visitors didn't seem to mind their absence, though, and sang with gusto. They also enjoyed the songs presented by the children, and the pastor's short Bible study on the second coming of Jesus.

Island women had prepared sandwiches and drinks the day before, and now made them available in the court house. This took the passengers by surprise, as they had already been given sack lunches by the ship's cruise director. "Now that's real hospitality," said one traveler as he laid aside the ship's lunch in favor of the delicious island food.

For five hours island roads swarmed with hikers. Some trekked up the steep hills to St. Paul's, Garnet's Ridge, Taro Ground, and a few even braved the steep, rocky descent down Tedside.

After sunset on this busiest of Sabbaths, Pitcairners opened their baskets of curios aboard ship, and experienced perhaps the busiest one-hour period of selling in island history. The captain graciously held the ship an hour beyond its scheduled departure to allow those Pitcairners who are conscientious Sabbath-keepers time to sell their crafts.

At 8 p.m. islanders gathered in the ship's lounge to sing for the passengers and crew. One islander was heard saying, "I've never heard us sing any better."

Though the day was long and tiring, God blessed both the islanders and those who came to visit. Paul said, in Hebrews 13:2, (NIV) "Do not forget to entertain strangers," and Pitcairners tried hard to follow his counsel.