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A Twisted Mess

Building a home in the Guatemala city dump community will leave you a twisted mess.

Leaving for Guatemala I was busy, stretched and frazzled. The to-do list of managing properties, answering emails, and conquering weekly ministry goals had left me stretched beyond measure. My weary mind questioned and doubted the words God had pressed upon me a year ago, “build a house.”


After four trips to Guatemala, I know my heart loves the place. My soul craves to walk the messy streets and serve the people. I prayed that our team would love the community as much as I do. Oh how I wanted them to love that place! I knew that if all of our hearts began to beat for the community in unison then building a home would come naturally.

A Walk through the community.

Arriving at Potter’s House, it felt like I was home. While my mind embraced the moment of hugs from friends I hadn’t seen in a year and children who ran up to say hello, I realized that new team members were probably stunned. The community personality was pressing upon all their senses. The sights, smells, and mess were all different from what we had left behind.

Guatemala Faces

After a brief orientation concerning how we would finish building a house for a special family there, we were ready to get to work. We gathered tools and began to walk through the community to find our destination. I prayed the team would fall in love with this place that was going to wreck their soul and that God would fulfill this dream of building a house that seemed so unreal.

I couldn’t wait to see the spot God would have us. My heart beat fast knowing we were soon going to meet the family who would be blessed and I was excited to know they wanted to work along side of us to complete the project.

Hard work pays off.

Our days on the ground we worked hard. I’m talking the hard that leaves your body a weary twisted mess. We knew our days were limited and God had put the desire in all of us to get the job done.

It was time now to bring the dream to completion. We had collected monies and supplies for a year while wondering if we were up to the calling. But this moment it was time to push our abilities in to hyperdrive to complete the dream. As I watched the team work together, it became so apparent that God had anointed each person for such a time as this — to fulfill what He had spoken a year ago on a wet dreary drive through the mountains of Guatemala. Build a home.

God dreams always bless people.

Sometimes I wonder about the ways God works in my life and what he has called me to. But I’ve come to realize that when God moves through His people it is always about blessing other people.

Do you wonder if God is calling you to do something? Then ask yourself who will be blessed.

Meeting the family that would take ownership of this small cinderblock house we were finishing was a moment that will be etched upon my heart forever. There was no longer a question of “God, is this really what you said do.” It was apparent.


The mom of the house, Juanna, and her family members as they could would work along side of us. Juanna scraped concrete blocks, swept, and helped us do what was needed. But more than anything it was her presence I loved seeing at the property. Her smile, encouragement, and presence melted my heart and gave us a sense of urgency to present a perfect gift to her family.

As our dream was coming to completion, so was Juanna’s.

Dedicating the house.

When God spoke a year ago, I asked for confirmation. The call was out-of-this-world bizarre so asking for confirmation seemed like the only thing to do for this crazy south Texas girl. And God is so gracious — he not only confirmed once, but twice.

One of the confirmations came though a sweet friend named Mary. Mary knew too we were to build a house. She worked diligently along side me and others throughout the year raising funds and doing what it took to bring God’s call to pass. She had came to Guatemala to see last year and left knowing she had a responsibility to do something.

Mary fell in love with the country, children, and the messiness of what God was doing. She couldn’t wait to get back to serve the people. A few weeks before we were to leave Mary became aware she had a brain tumor. Surgery was immediate and recovery was slow. Guatemala would not be a trip for Mary this year.

And through Mary’s struggle I learned that sometimes God uses us as instruments to confirm in others what they should do. He uses us as cheerleaders and visionaries. Yes, God can use us in mighty ways even when we do not get to stand where we’d like to see the dream complete.

Our last moments with Juanna captured the spirit of the trip. We gathered in the muddy courtyard to dedicate and turn the house key over to the family. Smiles were everywhere. Emotions were amped high. What words were there to share to make sense of this journey that had led us to this precious moment?

“Juanna, we have named your house ‘Mary’s House.’ As a reminder of what the Lord has done, we leave you with the scripture from Luke 1:45 where the angel tells Mary “You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”

Tears were everywhere as we all tried to speak what was on our hearts. Juanna, her husband and family. We all looked into each others eyes. We knew this was a holy moment on holy ground. We told Juanne there was more to come and at the mention of bunk beds her cries echoed through the community. She had only but ever dreamed of a nice house and beds were too much.

The mission was complete. The house was built. And the team had fallen in love with the dump community, but more than that we had fallen in love with Juanna. Goodbye hugs were hard. So hard. She was family and family is hard to leave behind. Lingering as long as we could we began to gather our tools.

The walk out of the community that afternoon twisted my heart as I knew it’d be awhile before I was back. The dirt, mess, and smells I took in. Breathing in deeply, I realized this was home. A home so foreign to my every day life, but a home I loved.

As we departed the place I tried to hold my tears back. I fought the emotions of what God had just done. Not only in Juanna’s family, but in the team and myself.

Feeling a twisted mess the words that I left Juanna came flooding through my soul as if God was reminding me, “You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”


Written by Alene Snodgrass,

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