Every major activity on Pitcairn involves the entire community. Perhaps this arises from the island's compact size, or because of the small population. Whatever the reason, Pitcairners pray, play, and work together, and this welds them into a tight-knit group that can stand against tremendous odds.

These people pay no taxesat least not in money. Instead the people join forces to keep the island going. Sometimes heavy work involves only the men, but often every able-bodied man, woman, and child lends a hand.

One recent work day found the entire working community down on flat rocks, gathering sand to use in various cement projects. Everyone helped in some way: Shoveling sand out of tide-pools, or into bags; carrying loaded sacks to the rubber dingy; or dumping the sand into barrels aboard the longboat.

The work moved along in a relaxed atmosphere with time for people to sit and talk, to fish, or to horse around. Several people suddenly found themselves in the water, pushed by a playful friend. At one point Terry and Clarice over-powered me and swung me hands and feet yo-heave-ho into the drinkclothes and all. When I came up I discovered that Clarice had also pushed the unsuspecting Terry in after me, to the cheers of the watching crowd.

Every activity seemed to draw the people closer togethereven the accident that hurt Clarice's arm.

This same togetherness appears after church services, at public meetings, and at mail call. People sit around the square, talking or just being together in silencetheir closeness encouraging each other physically, mentally, and spiritually.

This fellowship unifies the community. Of course there are individual differences on Pitcairn as anywhere else, and at times tempers flare. But when these people pray and play, and work together they form a bond between them closer than I've seen in most families I've known.

Perhaps Paul had this in mind when he wrote: "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one anotherand all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:25 (NIV).