I just got back from my third mission trip to Haiti. This year we had a team of 44; 9 adults, 5 college students, and 30 high school students. Each year has taught me something different. One thing that has amazed me each trip, especially the first one, is that I go there each year expecting to make a difference and to make a change, but the one that ends up changing is me. I learn so much from the people of Haiti. It’s a beautiful country full of beautiful people.
This trip was a totally different experience than my previous two. We got to spend more time with people in the community. I got to really observe the people and their culture. You want to know what I learned? Material things mean very little to them. What they value most is people and their relationships with those people.
We probably do Disney a little differently than most people. For us, a Disney trip isn’t about riding every ride or meeting every character. Sure, we have rides that we want to make sure we ride and experiences we want to make sure we have. Our main focus of our trip is spending time together. Very, very rarely do we ever split up just to fit more in.
We enjoy eating together whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Sitting down to eat together is an important part of our day at home and it’s an important part of our day at Disney. It’s nice to just sit, be still, and enjoy each other’s company, of course while eating yummy food.
Planning a Disney trip also gives us time together. We sit down together as a family (or for our upcoming trip, just Nick and I, since it will be a surprise for Anniston) and we plan together. We look at restaurants and decide where we want to eat. We talk about what our favorite parts of Disney are, what we don’t want to miss, what days are best to do what, and etc. We have fun planning together just as much as we have fun experiencing together.
While some might think that traveling to a third world country would make me feel guilty for spending time and money on a Disney trip. That it would make me want to bunker down, quit spending money, and be grateful for what I have. Yes, it does do those things. But, mainly, it just shows me what’s most important in my life.
That is my relationships and time spent with my family. When we are at Disney, or other vacations, we spend time together. We enjoy each other. Yes, the rides are fun, but they are fun because we get to see each other’s faces light up. Anniston’s favorite ride is the teacups. Why does she enjoy that ride so much? Because it’s fun. Why is it fun? Because we sit across from each other, we work together to spin the teacup, we make silly faces at each other, and we laugh. Those moments are building precious memories for my family and I cherish them.
So, what did Haiti teach my about Disney? It showed me that building strong relationships with my people is what I value, what I want to spend my time and money on. We as a family are shifting our thinking. We are going to spend more time together on a daily basis without any type of screens as a distraction.
We are also going to start making our vacation time intentional. Whether that’s a weekend trip somewhere, staying at home and doing a staycation, taking a Disney vacation or a vacation somewhere else, our time together is what is going to be most important. Loving each other, building memories, and just enjoying being together.
A trip to Disney is more than just a trip. At least to us it is. It’s about quality family time and building those memories that will last a lifetime.