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The Complete Story:
Grasshopping Grandma - Berni Denslow

Frances Gallegos’ mother passed away on her first birthday, and her uncle and aunt raised her as their own.

“I was a coal miner’s daughter,” she explains, “and although the schools were excellent, my parents couldn’t manage to keep me there. I just thought I was too smart and discontinued my education after grade six.”

But throughout her life Frances felt an emptiness she couldn’t explain. It seemed like she was constantly looking for God.

Frances is 79 years old, and for 50 of those years she was a practicing Catholic. Then her beautician became a Protestant Christian and began telling her about a new church. “She was so sweet to me, and kept inviting me, so I decided I couldn’t turn her down,” Frances explains. After attending her friend’s church, she says, “I felt like an empty peanut shell when I went back to my church. I just wasn’t getting anything out of it.”

Soon Frances was attending other Protestant churches, searching for something but never feeling her need satisfied. Once she recalls being baptized in a big oval tub of water. “I didn’t really understand what that was all about,” she says. “I would question them, ‘Why do we worship on Sunday when the Bible teaches that the seventh day is God’s holy day?’ No one could give me an answer, and I felt so empty.” With her usual flair for words she adds, “I was like a grasshopper jumping around from one church to another!”

Frances lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, all her life until she moved to Colorado for a year. Homesick, she and her husband, Margarito, returned to New Mexico a year later and settled in a small town of about 4,000 people called Meadow Lake, about 20 miles from Albuquerque.

Those who are regular readers of our testimonies can almost predict what came next. “One day my granddaughter, Donna, was helping me set up my TV, when suddenly the Holy Spirit put 3ABN on!

“I can’t remember who was preaching that day, but Donna added that channel to my selections,” Frances says. Soon she was “hooked” on 3ABN, watching it till the wee hours of the morning. There were so many interesting things she wanted to learn about! She tells us she would sit in front of her TV and study the Bible, reading the texts over and over until she understood them. (Remember she had only a sixth grade education.)

Even though the station was twenty miles away, 3ABN’s picture came in beautifully with just a “rabbit ears” antenna. Then suddenly, 3ABN wasn’t there. Frances didn’t realize that we had been instructed by the Federal Communications Commission to switch from channel 17 to channel 38. Heartbroken, Frances thought she had lost 3ABN forever, but praise God, one of her friends told her where to find it again, and she rejoiced as if she had found lost treasure!

Then one day she heard Pastor Doug Batchelor clearly saying, “Friends, I encourage you to find a Seventh-day Adventist Church in your area to attend. Just look it up in your telephone directory.” That’s how she found the beautiful Los Lunas Seventh-day Adventist Church, just seven miles from her home, and it wasn’t long before the Johnstons were coming to study the Bible with Frances and Margarito.

At the time, the Gallegos’ son, James, was living with them, and would sit in the next room, listening as the Bible studies were going on. One day Mr. Johnston called out, “James, come on over and sit with us,” and he became an avid participant. James was a trucker, so he would take his study guides and Bible on his trips. “While they loaded and offloaded his truck he would have time to study and answer the questions,” Frances explains, and after attending the Los Lunas Church for a year, she and James followed Jesus’ example by being baptized.

Frances and Margarito were married for 52 years, and he was disabled 18 of them before passing away several years ago. “Even though he was not well, he would help me at home with the cooking, the laundry, and other household chores,” Frances says. “He was a very patient man.”

Ironically, she found it easier to care for him then, than to accept help from her friends, now that she finds herself less independent than she once was. As I talked to her, she asked for our prayers, since her eyesight is failing and she finds it difficult to walk. She told me her friends take her to church, and they’re only too eager to help. “I just hate to bother them all the time,” she confides.

Mercedes, her 16-year-old great-granddaughter, has lived with her for two years so she can attend the local high school, where she is a senior this year. A year ago she came home to find Frances on the floor, unconscious! The paramedics took her to the hospital where she quickly received medical attention. “I thank God for Mercedes, and I’m so thankful for my dear church family who came immediately to the hospital to be there for me,” she says.

Frances takes Mercedes to church whenever she can, and she’s pleased her granddaughter is learning a lot about the Bible. Frances also says she tries to share her faith with her neighbors in a gentle way. “Even Jesus doesn’t force anyone to listen,” she explains.
We praise God that 3ABN was there when Frances was searching for truth, and we ask you to pray that 3ABN can continue to be there as a beacon of hope for her and the hundreds of thousands of searching souls in the greater Albuquerque area.

Frances’ Pastor, Rodel Liwanag, tells us, “3ABN’s TV ministry has made a great impact in our area. Viewers like what they hear, and go to the phone book to check on Sabbath-keeping churches in the area.” He adds, “They come to us now, and we are privileged to reap souls for the kingdom from what they learn on 3ABN.” If you’re ever in the area, I encourage you to visit his church, located at 12 Thomas Road, in Los Lunas, New Mexico. Who knows, you may see my sweet friend, Frances, her son James, or even her great-granddaughter, Mercedes. If you do, make sure and give them a hug from me. We’re all family, you know. God’s great big family!

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