By Gaspar & Mary-Ellen Colon
Grandma Maria was the first member of the Colon family to become a Seventh-day Adventist Christian. She loved Jesus very much and it didn’t take long for people in her neighborhood to realize that fact.
Grandma lived in a big house in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. The house was always a bustle of activity. In the basement, Grandpa operated a furniture factory. Every day you could hear the sounds of saws, hammers, machines, spray painting guns, and workmen shouting above the noise as they made all the beds, dressers, cabinets, tables, and chairs. The smell of wood shavings and spray lacquer blended together with the heat and humidity of the tropics.
Upstairs, life was very busy too. Several of Grandma’s children were now grownups and lived in the house. They had their children, which of course were Grandma’s grandchildren. And then there were all the neighborhood kids who would come and visit. The delicious smells from the kitchen were always an attraction for those who passed by the big house, and Grandma was always there to invite them in for a glass of water or a meal. Grandpa would often be seen loading the factory truck with furniture to be delivered to the various stores in town.
Grandma was the only Adventist Christian in the family. That was not easy. When family worship time came, she always invited the members of the household to join her for singing, Bible reading, and prayer. Sometimes there were those who would join her, but most of the time Grandma found herself alone on the back porch with God and her two parrots. Their names were Pepe and Suzie. How she enjoyed having family worship! She would sing songs and read the Bible aloud, and sometimes would even preach to her parrots when there was no one else around for her to talk with.
Soon Pepe and Suzie began to learn to sing some of Grandma’s favorite hymns. Her favorite hymn was Santo, Santo, Santo . . . (Holy, Holy, Holy . . .). Every time Grandma would start to sing that hymn, Pepe and Suzie would begin to sway back and forth with their necks stretched out, singing the song with all their might. Grandma also repeated certain words and phrases from sermons she had heard. Her parrots learned those, too. It wasn’t long before one or the other of the parrots would shout, “Preparate pecador, que Cristo viene!” (“Prepare sinner, the Lord is coming!”).
Pepe and Suzie were kept in a cage at the top of the steps that came up from the basement to Grandma’s back porch. In Grandpa’s basement furniture factory there was one worker, named Carlos, who was very lazy. Carlos would saw a board and then he would take out a cigarette to smoke while he rested for a while. Every time Carlos’ corner of the factory got quiet, Pepe and Suzie would call out his name, “Carlos!” Then they would add, “Get to work!” (“Travaja!”) in a scolding voice. This would make Carlos very angry. He got so angry that one evening, as he climbed the stairs from the factory, he opened the latch of the parrot cage and left it open.
Early the next morning while it was still dark, one of Grandma’s neighbors woke up to the sound of voices just outside her window. “Santo, Santo, Santo . . .” (“Holy, holy, holy . . .”) “Prepare sinner, the Lord is coming!” The neighbor lady ran to her window and peered out into the darkness. Again came the song and the warning cry, “Prepare sinner, the Lord is coming!” With that she hurried out to the street only to find others who were asking each other, “Did you hear what I heard?”
Grandma heard the commotion and joined the group. She happily announced that her parrots must be up in those trees.
Soon Pepe and Suzie were back in their cage, leaving Grandma to explain to her neighbors how it happened that her parrots learned to sing and preach! Some of Grandma’s neighbors said they wished they knew more about the Bible, so Grandma offered to give them Bible studies. Several of them gave their hearts to Jesus and were baptized.
We all know that Pepe and Suzie were just repeating words and sounds they had heard Grandma say in family worship. They didn’t really understand what it all meant. But we know about the love of Jesus from the Bible. Jesus is our friend, and we can tell others of His love. If Pepe and Suzie could witness for Jesus by just repeating sounds, how much more we could do by intelligently sharing our love for Jesus with others!
Source: Families Reaching Families: Family Ministries Planbook. Silver Spring, MD; Department of Family Ministries, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 1993.