As a homeschooling family of nine, our family spends a lot of time together. We are always doing things as a family–whether with school projects, reading together, playing games, or just hanging around the house eating cookies. One special love of our family is to travel. We’ve also been able to do it a lot. My dad has to travel some for his work, and most of the time a lot of things are paid for by his company. That is an added bonus; we have been able to see so many interesting things, and the expense is minimal. Together my family has spent many long hours in the car driving to Colorado teaching the youngest children Bob Dylan songs, or attacking breakfast buffets at hotels like we will never eat again! We have made some great memories–visiting three countries, and twenty-eight of the states.
Our most recent trip was a little different. My father had a work trip in California. We had never before traveled that far west; it almost seemed like another planet to us! At first Dad just tossed it out as an idea, but then we began to talk seriously. My younger siblings and I immediately started to scour the Internet for places to see—filling lists with everything from national parks to theme parks. There was much to do, and each of us wanted to see something different!
There were some concerns, too. We would have to fly, which added to the expense immensely. And of course–our consciences kicked in as we felt a bit guilty. Was it worth it to spend so much money, just to have fun for ourselves? There were so many other ways to use our money and so many people in need. Maybe our desire to travel was perhaps just selfish.
However, things unfolded in a very unique way. Recently I had heard of a family in Tijuana, Mexico. They invited families to come and stay with them and volunteer at the orphanage that they helped with. I brought this idea up with Mom–and we contacted the family. They were delighted to have us visit–and it happened that they were very close to the part of California we planned on visiting!
Once we got to Mexico, we were amazed. We helped the family in several tasks–from working in building their bathrooms to hosting a cookout for the orphans. It was such a neat experience for all of us to be working together–from my seven year old brother to my parents–in doing something worthwhile on a trip that was originally meant to be for just our enjoyment.
Of course, we didn’t just work–we went to Disneyland and the Grand Canyon. But there was also a certain satisfaction that we would not have received if those had been our only destinations. We received the satisfaction of knowing that this trip was not just for us and our family–even though spending fun times together is important. This trip also helped brighten the lives of twenty orphaned children living in poverty in one of the most dangerous cities in the world. To this day, our greatest memory of that trip was not walking the red carpet in Hollywood, or hiking through the hot deserts of California. If you ask us, we would say the best memory of the trip was running around a Sam’s Club near the California border, buying pounds of hamburger, gallons of ice cream, and packs of candy for the children at the orphanage!
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