One month with Potter’s House in the Guatemala City dump community wasn’t enough to understand everything. I only began to navigate the programs, relationships and connections of the place.

For example, take Jonathan, one of my buddies from the education program. Jonathan’s personality sparkles. He is fascinated by the human skeleton and is quick to invite anyone to a game of soccer.

We shared lunches together, traded words from our respective languages and he even gave me an in depth explanation of the technique he uses to gel his hair into a perfect ridge every morning.

Melina with Jonathan and Mayerly in the entrepreneurship class

When I asked Jonathan over lunch one day about why he liked coming to Potter’s House, he let out a slow, pensive breath, smiled, and told me, “It’s just lovely.

But there’s more to Jonathan’s relationship with Potter’s House. Jonathan’s mom, Melina, explained to me that they first came to Potter’s House when Jonathan was very young because of his health. He suffered malnutrition, but Potter’s House was able to provide him with helpful vitamins and nutritious lunches.

Eventually, Jonathan even received a much-needed surgery because of the support of outside sponsors.

Melina volunteers in the afternoons with the education program in addition to attending personal development classes. She enjoys participating in the work of Potter’s House because she knows how much good they do for the people in the community and her own children.

Potter’s House community members

I’ve also spent time with Melina in the personal development classes where she learns everything from entrepreneurship to cooking skills. If I was lucky, she’d even hand off her baby to me for safe keeping so she could devote all of her attention to the lessons.

Stepping back and looking at the history between Jonathan’s family and Potter’s House, it’s a little hard to distinguish their exact role—is Melina a volunteer or a patient? Who is the recipient? Who is the provider?

Does it matter? In a community, we mutually care for one another. People may have moments of great need, but needs do not define any of us.

I have been surrounded by a community of people accustomed to scavenging in garbage and living in scant housing with limited resources—but within the walls of Potter’s House, I can’t find them.

They share, work, live and love with no visible scars. This place nurtures a small, undeniable piece of the Kingdom Jesus talked about on Earth—the “haves” and the “have nots”, the empowered and the powerless walk together, learn from one another, and live in community.

The Guatemala City has made my short list of the most beautiful places I’ve ever experienced.

Read below about the work of Potter’s House and lives of the Treasures. To put it in the words of Jonathan, it’s just lovely. See for yourself!

Treasure in the Darkest Places

The garbage dump doesn’t just permeate the streets—it’s personified in the daily struggles of the people who call this place home.

Click here to read this article…

With Hesitant Steps

Discomfort of any sort may not seem inviting, but I think it’s the most precious invitation we receive. We must go there—even if with hesitant steps. Beautiful things are waiting.

Click here to read this article…

Valued

With every lunch, band aid and tutoring session, they learn they are worthy of love.

Click here to read this article…

Photo Gallery: Tiny Treasures

Meet some of the littlest Treasures – the focus of the Potter’s House mission.

Click here to see this photo gallery…

Culture Guide: Chicken Bus

Want to know where school buses go after they retire? Check out my guide on what you need to know about the Guatemalan chicken bus!

Click here to read this culture guide…

Body and Spirit

The trash, the stench, the dust—it’s not the ideal place for a medical clinic. But then again, scavenging in a dump isn’t an ideal living condition.

Click here to read this article..

Photo Gallery: Learn and Share

From hair cutting to beading to entrepreneurship, the women at Potter’s House are learning! Check out some photos of what empowering the Guatemala City dump community looks like…

Click here to see this photo gallery…

Culture Guide: Kakik

What trip would be complete without a little local cuisine? Join Laura as she learns to make a traditional Guatemalan soup with some of the Potter’s House Treasures!

Click here to read this culture guide…

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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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Comments

  1. JimM said... 

    Reply

    June 10th, 2012 at 12:23 am  

    “People may have moments of great need, but needs do not define any of us”.

    This is profound truth, yet so difficult to grasp, at times both by the person in need and the person walking alongside them.

    Potters House seems to be an amazing place where this truth comes into Light.

    Thank you Laura for another great series. God has used your gifts to show us so much this year!!

    • Laura Stump said... 

      Reply

      June 11th, 2012 at 11:48 am  

      Thanks for following, Jim!

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