June 10, 2011

Message from my Heart


Schools in our neighborhood are getting out next week and many families are getting ready for their summer vacations. But our family took a mini vacation in May and I’m so excited to share the experience with everyone.

We managed to avoid the peak summer crowd and the unbearable heat and also got a better deal on flights and accommodations. I have to say it was worth missing two days of school for an experience that we will treasure forever.

The most amazing thing for us was the fact that despite the limited number of days we had, we managed to fit in so much FUN, SUN, a little GIVING and definitely received a lot of GRATITUDE…


Today's Inspiring Story

Puerto Vallarta Adventures

Our family is back from a mini, fun filled and most gratifying trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Before we left home, we enjoyed shopping and packing for the trip. The Hard Rock Hotel San Diego donated a basket full of mini essentials (shampoo, shower gel, loofah, etc.). We put it all in individual gift bags for the girls (ages 5-18) who we were visiting at the AGAPE shelter which stands for Ayuda (help), Gracia (grace), Amor (love), Perdon (forgiveness), and Esperanza (hope).

Puerto Vallarta Adventures 2

We spent the first two days enjoying our resort pool, the beach, golf, a relaxing facial and massage, a dolphin and sea lion encounter, and an unforgetable ziplining experience. The 3rd day was dedicated to a half day city tour and then an afternoon with the girls at the AGAPE.








Upon arrival at the shelter we were greeted by the staff and girls with introductions in English (even though they weren't fluent in English, they tried) and our girls who don't speak Spanish repeated the greetings in Spanish for them. We took a quick tour of their home which was very clean, comfortable and accommodating thanks to the dedication of Caty Huet and her son Luis Espinosa who established the home in 2003. It was eye opening for our daughters to see how 20 girls share 3 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms. We counted 14 toothbrushes lined up above a single sink in one of the bathrooms. And yet everything was neat and tidy and harmonious in their home.

We split into 3 groups working on different projects. One group sat outside and started working on a craft project making key chains and jewelry. The second group went into the dining room and got busy baking and decorating cookies, and the third group cleared out a shed to make space for a room dedicated for specialists and volunteers who visit the shelter and assist the girls with their medical, phychological, and general well being needs. The girls sell the cookies and crafts to raise funds for the shelter and also to learn skills so that they are prepared for life after the shelter.

The most touching moments were when they brought out a surprise birthday cake which they had baked and decorated to celebrate my daughters 7th birthday and my dad's 69th birthday which had just passed a couple of days prior to our visit. They thanked us for visiting and spending time with them with special messages and cards. We shared cake, tears, hugs and laughter. Their goody bags weren't the typical goody bags, but rather just basic essentials which we all take for granted such as underclothes, socks, and basic hygiene care products. And to see the girls light up and smiling is something we won't soon forget.

We couldn't have asked for a better experience. It was definitely the highlight of our vacation. The AGAPE is a loving, caring, and nurturing environment for the girls and their smiles will forever be imprinted in our memories. Even though we are back home and into our routines, we keep talking and thinking about the girls at the AGAPE. We wish we could have spent more than just one afternoon with them. Hopefully we will be able to go and visit again someday, and YOU ARE INVITED TO JOIN US!




Vacations That Matter Recommends

Join one of these trips and experience FUN, SUN…A LITTLE GIVING...A LOT OF GRATITUDE!!!

Experience Peru’s intriguing culture and legacy of Machu Picchu
Spend a day assembling and distributing wheelchairs, building stoves or distributing shoes

Treat yourself to beautiful beaches, Mayan Ruins, culture, food, & adventure activities and
Spend a few hours visiting a women’s shelter or cleaning up a beach

Experience the tranquility of Angkor Wat and Ha Long Bay
Spend a day building water filters and distributing them to Villages or spend time at orphanages.

Indulge in sugar white sand, warm tropical sun and crystal clear turquoise water and
Spend a day or two visiting the Children of Jamaica and their school.

SCOTLAND, MAY – AUGUST, 2011 or 2012
Enjoy Golf, Castles, Distillaries & Gardens and
Spend an evening helping out at the local soup kitchen.

Experience an all-inclusive resort or cruise vacation and
Spend a day visiting schools, orphanages, or a senior center as a shore excursion or day trip

Exhilarate in wildlife safaris, Gorilla trekking, the fascinating people & nature
Spend a day introducing new sports, life skills, importance of fitness & health to African youth in schools and orphanages.

For bookings or inquiries please contact

Vacations That Matter


About Vacations That Matter

Vacations that Matter specializes in planning customized group vacations for families, friends, collegues, church members, associations, corporations, clubs or any affinity groups who would like to enjoy their vacations and make a difference while bonding, sharing gratifying experiences, and memorable journeys together.

Our customized group vacations will be about having fun, sharing dreams, and giving hope, by incorporating a few hours to a couple of days of volunteer work such as visiting a school, orphanage, women's shelter, and soup kitchen, or working on projects including wildlife conservation, trail maintenance, building, painting, sharing professional expertise, and much much more.

Matters of the Heart is an electronic newsletter serving as an inspirational tool for anyone who wishes to pay it forward while enjoying their vacation, published by VacationsThatMatter.


If you have any questions or comments please send them to: hello@vacationsthatmatter.com

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