My name is Martha Manzo, and this is my husband, Joseph. We are a part of the Santa Fe Springs First Nations Foursquare Church in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., pastored by Randall and Cheryl Bear Barnetson. We are traveling on what indigenous people call the “Red Road”—the spiritual path of Christ.
My husband is a Native American from the Pueblo Nation (Isleta Pueblo) and Piro/Manso/Tiwa Tribe from New Mexico. He was born and raised in Southern California. I am an Alaskan Eskimo, born in Sitka, Alaska, and was adopted in Juneau, Alaska.
When I was 9, my adopted parents divorced, and I later moved with my father to Southern California. I found it hard to adjust to new surroundings.
I was rebellious as I became older, and when my father died, I was unable to maintain a righteous path. I became an alcoholic, had two relationships that didn’t work out, and later had five beautiful children. It was to my misfortune that I lost my children to social services and became homeless.
One day, I prayed to the Creator to help me in my hardships. It was that same day that I met my wonderful husband at a Mother’s Day powwow. I noticed how he attended to other Native American families in strife. He also helped me in my time of need. I later fell in love with his kind spirit.
We led our life on the road, from powwow to powwow, dancing and singing. Little did we know an upcoming powwow would lead us to a wonderful Christian Native American, whose inspiration guided us. Her name was Cheryl Bear.
Not only did her inspirational music touch our hearts, she was also from the same clan I had come from. It had been years since I had seen someone of my clan; it gave me a sense of tranquility that I cannot put to words. Cheryl invited us to her church, which has become our church home.
Joseph’s involvement in the church has been a great joy. He’s the lead drummer of the Native drum, and he plays the guitar and hand drum for the church. I dance in traditional regalia.
We are now attending First Nations Bible College and desire to become pastors, in Gods grace. We hope to start our own church wherever the Creator takes us.