I’m currently reading a fictionalized autobiography called I MARRIED A MISSIONARY, written in 1943 by Zelma Wood Lawyer.  Zelma is a distant cousin from my father’s side of the family—one long admired for her mission work and for her courageous character after the untimely deaths of her husband and second child.

Part One is more like diary entries and moves from their departure from the New York City docks to their arrival in Rhodesia, South Africa. After many days at sea, days filled with details aboard ship—about the food, fun and the terrible sea-sickness, on the way to their destination, Zelma writes about crossing the equator on her birthday.

We crossed the equator last night, but I did not awake when we went over the bump. One of the sailors told us of a lady passenger who was very desirous of seeing the equator as she crossed it. He assured her that he would be glad to point it out to her.  As she held the binoculars before her eager straining eyes, scrutinizing the heaving blue beneath her he stealthily pulled a hair from his head and held it before the glasses, whereon she exclaimed, “Oh! Now I see it!  It’s red, and it has an elephant walking on it.”

The sun is shining today and the water is smooth.

Just before breakfast this morning, George handed me an envelope addressed, “Mrs. George Richards, South Atlantic Ocean.” When I opened it, I found a very lovely birthday greeting card.  A pink ribbon holds it together, and on the front is a wreath of pretty flowers.  Beneath the flowers are the words, “Fragrant thoughts like the breath of flowers add grace and sweetness to the passing hours.”

Inside is a sweet verse:

Within a corner of my heart,
All safely tucked away,
Are very many thoughts of you,
Each very bright and gay.
They fill each passing hour with light,
Like stars of heaven’s blue,
They keep me glad, they make me strong,
These happy thoughts of you.

Lawyer, Zelma Wood, “I Married A Missionary” (1943). Stone-Campbell Books. 347. h p://digitalcommons.acu.edu/crs_books/347


  1. I have recently established an endowed scholarship at Harding University, Searcy, Arkansas entitled “The Ray and Zelma Lawyer Endowed Scholarship for Missionary Students”. Thank you for doing this blog about my aunt Zelma, my mother’s younger sister, whom she admired for her courage and dedication.


    1. So far my reading of Zelma Wood Lawyer’s “diary” entries give me the impression of a brave little lady with a purpose. Even sea-sickness did not stop her. She expected the discomforts aboard ship and was willing to endure for the ultimate goal. Part One has been a bright revelation of a young girl’s heart, and I look forward to more.


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