Posted May 28, 2012 by 6 Comments

“Cathy speaks English,” her teacher told me as I sat down next to her.

She bit her lip and shook her head no. I decided to push a little bit and practice the basics like I’m usually able to with the other teenagers in the Potter’s House education program.

“How are you, Cathy?”

“I’m fine, thanks. And you?” she answered as expected.

“Fine. What-do-you-like-to-study?” I enunciated.

“I’m studying to be a bilingual secretary. I graduate in November, but I want to go to a university in the United States,” she explained with a smile.

This is Cathy when she first came to Potter’s House to receive medical attention.

Oh. Cathy can indeed speak English. She told me about herself, her school and how she came to Potter’s House as a young child for medical care, but a decade later, she’s still a part of the education program.

Cathy speaks with confidence and takes corrections in stride, repeating the sentence and continuing deliberately. It’s only when we start talking about the things closest to Cathy’s heart that she falters and switches to Spanish.

“When I was eight years old, my father was killed,” she tells me, “and my mother had to start working in the garbage dump.” Even though she doesn’t say it, I know from staff that Cathy, like many other children living here, witnessed her father’s death.

“When my father died, it was very difficult for me…coming to Potter’s House started to fill my heart—the people, the love, the support. Not just the support that they give us in school and homework, but the spiritual support…I came to know God little by little.”

Potter’s House nurtured Cathy and helped form her into the confident, intelligent young woman she is today. Her character has helped her excel in her studies and overcome difficult obstacles that still surface in her life.

A few months ago, one such obstacle surfaced. Cathy’s family lost their house in a community fire. She admits she was upset and frustrated, especially because it’s her last year of school and all her supplies were destroyed.

Cathy will be graduating this fall and is looking forward to continuing her studies.

But Potter’s House was quick to help rebuild Cathy’s home, and the other five homes lost in the fire, as a part of their community support program. It was an answered prayer for Cathy’s family.

I go through the list of ways Cathy’s family has benefited from Potter’s House—the medical help, the free lunches Cathy received in the education program, tutoring, a new house, a relationship with sponsors who help encourage Cathy…

I can see why she’s grateful.

“Cathy, what’s the most valuable thing Potter’s House has given you?” I ask.

“They’ve demonstrated to me that it doesn’t matter where someone is from. Sometimes, people think less of us and say, ‘they come from the garbage dump,’ but this doesn’t make me feel bad because God gives each of us equal value. They’ve taught us that we’re treasures, and we need to demonstrate that in all places.”

Cathy is grateful, but not indebted.

She understands the support and love she receives is not something to be paid back—it’s an outpouring of God’s care for her.

Looking around at the other Potter’s House students, I’m grateful for the tangible things they receive, but more grateful for the message behind the gifts. With every lunch, band aid and tutoring session, they learn they are worthy of love. They are worth investing in, worth caring for and truly worthy of the title Treasure.

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Next Steps
    • Learn more about the education program, the community support program, and the other work covered by Potter’s House from their website.
    • Cathy’s journey was supported by donors. She has been blessed by the financial and emotional support of people who’ve invested in her, and her donors have been blessed by watching Cathy grow and flourish. Wouldn’t you like that opportunity? Consider becoming a child sponsor with Potter’s House.
    • What is the message behind your giving? Think about volunteer work you’ve done or things you sponsor. What is the message alongside the support?
    • Pray for Cathy as she finishes her last year of school and graduates in November. Pray for the other Treasures in school and in the dump community in Guatemala.
    Next Steps

About the Author: Laura is a journalism fellow with World Next Door. She graduated from the University of Arizona, Tucson with a degree in Animal Sciences and a minor in Spanish. She is constantly learning, making friends, dancing, and trying to understand her role in alleviating the suffering of others. Laura also attracts a lot of awkward situations.

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  1. JimM said... 


    May 31st, 2012 at 7:15 am  

    The two photos of Cathy are a reminder that the alleviation of suffering is not a short term process. “Being present” to the marginalized and loving well are “long haul” Kingdom endeavors. Laura, It would be so interesting to do a followup interview with Cathy a few years down the path.

    • Laura Stump said... 


      May 31st, 2012 at 1:13 pm  

      Absolutely. I love how the Potter’s House staff refers to community members as part of the Potter’s House family–some of these relationships have lasted 10 or 20 years. That amount of time builds an actual relationship with program participants. They fit naturally into the organization as family instead of as “recipients” of some service.

  2. Tasha Simons said... 


    May 31st, 2012 at 9:32 am  

    Wow! I am so glad Cathy sees herself as the apple of God’s eye. When she said, “They’ve taught us that we’re treasures.”, I felt thankful she grasps her belovedness. What a beautiful story of God’s love and care demonstrated through believers being the hands and feet of Christ. I love it!

    • Laura Stump said... 


      May 31st, 2012 at 1:14 pm  

      Thanks Tasha! I wish you could meet her–Cathy definitely has a confidence about her that radiates this sentiment.

  3. Steve said... 


    May 31st, 2012 at 12:55 pm  

    “She understands the support and love she receives is not something to be paid back—it’s an outpouring of God’s care for her.”

    Thanks for the reminder Laura!

    • Laura Stump said... 


      May 31st, 2012 at 1:15 pm  

      No problem!

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