The Red-Haired Alarm Clock
By Linda Porter Carlyle
Joseph Anderson Donetti is staying in Oregon with his grandmother, G.M. He doesn’t know very much about God, but he is learning that God loves him and has a plan for his life. Joseph was given two Bibles, his great-grandfather’s and a Children’s Bible. The last Joseph stories told how Joseph solved a mystery that had been in G.M.’s and his family for many years.
Joseph Anderson Donetti was dreaming of woodpeckers. Big purple woodpeckers hammering their beaks against the side of his apartment building. He groaned and rolled over. He pulled the pillow over his head.
“Wake up!” someone insisted loudly. “Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! I’ve got news! You sleep longer than anybody I ever knew!”
The woodpeckers turned into a big, hairy dog in Joseph’s dream. The dog had Joseph’s leg in his mouth and was shaking it back and forth.
Joseph gasped. He sat straight up in bed and blinked his eyes against the bright sunlight. Where was he? This was not his own familiar bedroom in his own apartment building. Then he remembered. He was in Oregon. He was in G.M.’s house. He was in Mom’s old bed.
Joseph pulled his leg out of the hairy dog’s mouth. It wasn’t a dog after all. Although, it was a hairy creature. A fuzzy-haired, redheaded girl creature leaning through the bedroom window with a grin on her face. “I scared you, didn’t I?”
Joseph fell back onto the bed and clutched his chest. “I think I’m having a heart attack!” he whispered. He shut his eyes and lay very still.
“Shall I call an ambulance for you or just wait ’til you recover by yourself and limp over to my house to hear the news?”
“OK! OK!” Joseph sat back up. “What is it?”
Mac leaned her elbows on the windowsill. “Pastor Chuck is going to start a special class tomorrow afternoon. It’s a baptismal class. I was already baptized last year, but I thought you would like to go to the class, and Mom said I could go with you. Because you’ll probably want to get baptized now that you know about God and that He loves you and that He died on the cross to save you.” Mac paused.
Joseph rubbed his eyes. “What is ‘baptized’?” he asked, yawning.
Mac blinked. “I thought everybody knew what being baptized is!” she exclaimed. She thought for a minute. “But I guess maybe if you didn’t know about God, you wouldn’t know about being baptized. Wow! I feel just like a missionary in Africa or someplace!” She giggled.
“Mac! Is that you up there?” a voice called from downstairs.
Joseph and Mac heard the stairs creak as G.M. climbed them. The bedroom door opened. G.M. came in.
“Good morning, you two,” she said with a smile. She looked at Mac leaning on the windowsill. “If you’re ever caught in a burning building when you become a fire fighter,” G.M. told her, “just laugh. Someone will be sure to hear you and find you.
“Now, climb on down that ladder,” she continued, “and let Joseph get up and get dressed.”
Mac’s head disappeared below the windowsill.
“You can come in the back door and have some orange juice if you want to,” G.M. called after her.
G.M. smiled at Joseph. “It isn’t everybody who has their own personal alarm clock appear in their bedroom window,” she remarked.
Joseph grinned back at G.M. “What is ‘baptized’?” he asked.
G.M. raised her eyebrows.
“Mac said there is going to be a class about it,” he explained. “She wants to go with me.”
“Oh, I see,” G.M. said. “Well, come downstairs and we’ll talk about it.”
A few minutes later Joseph joined G.M. and Mac at the kitchen table. There was a tall glass of orange juice waiting for him. He took a sip. “So tell me about it,” he said. “What is ‘baptized’?”
G.M. took a drink of her orange juice and looked at Mac. “Go ahead,” she said.
“When you’re baptized,” Mac began, “the pastor puts you under the water—maybe in a river—and lifts you back up. It shows that your sins have been washed away. It shows everybody that you love Jesus and want to follow Him.” She looked at G.M. “Right?”
G.M. nodded. “Tell us about the baptismal class,” she said.
“Well, Pastor Chuck was talking to my dad about it last night,” Mac explained. “He is going to meet every Sabbath afternoon with some kids who want to be baptized. Their parents can come, too, and visit together while the class is going on. And then we can all have a potluck picnic afterward. Dad told Pastor Chuck that he could teach the class at our house.” Mac stopped and grinned up at G.M. “And Mom said if Joseph comes to the class and you come for the visiting and the picnic, you won’t even have to cook. She’ll do it for you.”
“What a relief!” G.M. said. Her eyes twinkled.
“So,” Mac asked Joseph, “do you want to go to the class?”
“Sure,” Joseph answered. He looked at G.M. “Are there stories in the Bible about being baptized?” he asked.
“Good question,” G.M. said. She pulled her Bible across the table toward her and thumbed through the pages. “Go get a pencil and paper,” she said to Joseph. “I’ll write down some texts, and you and Mac can read the stories.”
Soon, G.M.’s list was ready. She handed it to Joseph. “You could read each story in both the Children’s Bible that I bought you and in your great-grandfather’s Bible. That would be fun.”
Joseph looked at the list. “I don’t know how to do this,” he said.
Mac swallowed the last of her orange juice. She put the glass down. “Don’t worry. I’ll show you,” she said. “Go get the Bibles, and I’ll meet you on the back porch.”