Posted by Peggy Utley

An anniversary is a date when you remember something special that happened on that date in an earlier year. The number of anniversaries celebrated is legion. Our most notable ones are birthdays, weddings and deaths. Every organization in society including the government and churches and every family and individual has special anniversary days.

Anniversaries are times of reflection and appreciation. They are landmarks, turning points and spiritual markers in our lives. They are to be  celebrated, honored and revered.

Fifty years ago, April 19, 1966, Gloria and I and our 21 month old son, Micky sailed from the port in New Orleans in route for missionary service in Brazil. We were on board the Del Mar, a passenger/freight ship for 17 days headed to Rio de Janeiro with stops in Puerto Rico and Barbados. In no way did our ship rival the modern cruise ships of today. Outside of a small swimming pool and fenced in play area, there were few amenities and little safety for the children of the four missionary couples appointed by the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Sending missionaries on a passenger/freighter ship with their household goods was less expensive than sending them by separate means. It was also easier to get our household goods through customs. A second reason for sending missionaries by ship was to give them time to mentally and spiritually make the transition from life in the United States to life in their assigned country with a vastly different culture and language. Perhaps the best perk of our 17 day voyage was the delicious meals served three times a day. We certainly had our fill of filet mignon and some of the best desserts you could imagine.

On this anniversary of leaving the United States for missionary service in Brazil, we give thanks to God for a life changing experience. We were blessed to have 14 years of service and to be a part of the establishment of 10 churches. To God be the Glory!

In His Love,

Charles