Laurel: What brought you to your community of faith?
Alondra: When I first moved to Indianapolis, I did not have a church. I was raised Catholic, but I went to a Baptist church when I lived in Missouri. I was looking for a congregation like the one I left. I missed the Pasto, and I missed the community. For around five years I did not go to church, and my heart was aching and I felt empty. I knew that my kids needed to know God and His love. One day the kids asked me why we didn’t go to church, yet all my friends attended. We were new in the city, and I asked my neighbor what church she attended. She told me that she assisted at the Cathedral in downtown Indianapolis. I asked to go with her and that is how I began attending Christ Church Cathedral. It the beginning I felt uncomfortable because I was new, but soon I learned how friendly the congregation was. When I started going to the classes taught by the Rev. Canon Zoila Manzanares, I felt included and more comfortable because I liked the way she talked about God and the church. I have learned a lot from her classes and look forward to them weekly.
Laurel: In attending the weekly classes what influenced your thinking about giving and stewardship?
Alondra: It is not easy to be faithful and be a good administrator of all that God has given me, but I recognize that everything I have comes from God. I’ve always been inspired by the story of Job and the widow’s mite. Job lost everything—his family, his wealth, health and his friends. Job had every reason to run from God and be angry with God, but he remained faithful to God in spite of everything. When I first moved to Indianapolis it was very hard. I didn’t know anybody, and it was hard to pay the rent, pay the bills and care for my three children. Little by little I got to know people at work, they helped me out a lot, sometimes with meals, sometimes helping me with kids. I felt that God sent me these friends—especially when times were very hard for me. Even though Job lost everything, he still thanked God, simply because God is God. That’s how I feel, I love God and I know God loves me. Through the hard times, I learned to trust in God no matter what. Giving has to be from the heart. That’s why I like the widow’s mite. She was proud to give. She didn’t have much, but she gave from her heart.
Laurel: What does trusting in God look like for you?
Alondra: For me, one way to show my trust in God is to give to God through the church. I work at a warehouse and get paid once a week. My co-workers know that I have a routine, when I cash my check, I set aside a certain amount for my pledge. They ask me, Why? Why do you do this? You have three kids, you don’t make very much money. I tell them. Why not? God gives me everything. I have breath, I wake up each morning, I have work, I have a family. All this is a gift. When I set aside a certain amount from my check, I don’t think I’m giving this to a person, or to an institution, I think I’m giving this to God to say thanks for all God has given to me. My kids see what I do, and they are learning from me—that makes me feel proud.
Laurel: What are some of the challenge around giving?
Alondra: Sometimes it’s very hard to keep up with my pledge because I earn minimum salary and have three kids to support. Again, I believe with all my heart that God gives me everything, and God will provide. He is worth more than a few pennies.
Laurel: How has giving influenced your spiritual life?
Alondra: I am very happy because my kids are learning the importance of giving back to God and the church. My kids serve as acolytes, readers and they sing in the choir. Our Priest, Rev. Zoila, is one of the blessings of our life. She is like a mother to me and my kids. When you give, when you are part of a community with people like Rev. Zoila, your capacity to notice God’s blessings becomes stronger. Each year I feel closer to God, and that is a blessing.
--Alondra Hernandez is a lay leader at Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis. The Rev. Laurel Johnston is officer for Stewardship for the Episcopal Church.