Perspective Painting of Places for a Purpose

Blue Chair watercolor painting by artist Saraya Lyons

Blue Chair watercolor painting by artist Saraya Lyons

I have wanted to travel since I was a little girl growing up in the small town of Bedford in southern Indiana. I loved the exotic music and colors of China and longed to experience them myself. It wasn’t until the first time I ventured out of the United States to the UK and Ireland in my senior year of high school that I realized how much I loved experiencing other cultures and seeing the small details that make up a city or landscape. 

It was a very touristy trip however, and although I enjoyed the 12 days of “culture,” it wasn’t what my heart was after. In college, I was able to go to China for five weeks, and my love of travel bloomed even more. I started painting some of the patterns and scenes I had experienced there. Along with my artistry, that trip ignited my passion to bring the love of God to all peoples.

After I graduated from college, I did a mission trip called The World Race, which is though an organization called Adventures in Missions (AIM) based out of Gainesville, GA. It is an 11-month mission trip in which the participants backpack through 11 countries. I was privileged to volunteer with local ministries and nonprofits as I lived with locals. While on my 11 month journey, I started to learn how to use my art to help and inspire people by painting murals, playing Pictionary to teach English, creating thank you gifts, and speaking prophetically into others’ lives. 

Botswana Pattern Mural painted by Saraya Lyons

Botswana Pattern Mural painted by Saraya Lyons

The latest six months of my life, I've chosen to spend in Mijas, Spain at G42, a Christian Leadership Academy, living in community with other believers. While attending the academy, I intentionally took time to seek out the details around me: the blue pots that lined the white washed walls of the pueblo’s cobblestone streets, our local hangout spots like La Bodega del Pintor and Blue Chair, and the patterns of the tiles in the doorways and on the stairs. 

Prickly Pear Store watercolor by Saraya Lyons

Prickly Pear Store watercolor by Saraya Lyons

I paint the things that many people often miss in order to celebrate the small things and nod my hat at the artists who created some of the original items. Sometimes I like to take different pieces from the things I see, like a pattern and an object, and merge them together to create a new image. Being able to bring the places to people who can’t travel is a joy for me.

I am always working on new paintings, and I plan to start doing collections from each of the countries I have traveled to. I would love to travel more and tell the stories of the people and places I meet. Maybe one day I will.

 
Saraya Lyons has an ETSY shop called The Faithful Gardener. Click on the link to see more of her work: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheFaithfulGardener?ref=hdr_shop_menu

Saraya Lyons has an ETSY shop called The Faithful Gardener. Click on the link to see more of her work: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheFaithfulGardener?ref=hdr_shop_menu

Live on Purpose

I travel for a living.

It’s what I do.

In the past 5 years, I’ve been to over 30 countries on 5 continents. I have spent more time overseas than in America. I’ve interacted with dozens of cultures, gawked at many of the 7 world wonders, preached in front of hundreds, and lived stories that most people only read about in books or Nat Geo.

I learned how to drive stick shift on the infamous “Death Road” in Bolivia. I walked the same trail that ancient Incan kings traversed to Machu Picchu. I shared time in a panaderia with drug dealers and cartel hit men in Colombia. I’ve been overwhelmed by the sheer power of Victoria Falls.

The past 5 years have been a whirlwind, and I’ve been blessed to fit what seems like a lifetime into them.

But when people ask me what my favorite part of my travels has been, rarely do I mention one of the wonders of the world or one of the crazy adventures I’ve been on. (Unless, of course, I’m feeling insecure at a dinner party, and I’m looking to have the best story in the room.) Most of the time, my best stories are ones of simplicity.

The happiest I was when I went out on the World Race (a mission trip to 11 countries in 11 months) was during a pickup soccer game with a local family and friends. The best sunset I saw happened while I was playing basketball on a neighborhood court in Zambia. One of my favorite Christmases ever was spent hammocking on the banks of a river with some friends in Laos-- after eating some of the worst sausage I’ve ever tasted. My South African mother still texts me to encourage me and tell me that she’s praying for my wife, and I’m brought to tears almost every time.

These are the stories that get me. Not the “epic adventures." Because though I’ve been blessed to experience the “epic adventures," they often don’t feel that way in the moment. And I usually leave tired and underwhelmed. But my adventures have taught me to BE the adventure. They’ve taught me to LIVE ON PURPOSE

I can now appreciate a sunset from anywhere in the world, and a field of wild flowers now leaves me near tears almost every time. Teaching little Niko English is now more than just a volunteer opportunity, it’s a chance to call out his potential as we figure out together the best way for this future Lionel Messi to learn. I no longer cook breakfast or dinner, I make gourmet meals. And I make them really well. My barber Angel is a good friend that I share life giving conversation with as I’m getting my hair cut. 

I’m more alive than I’ve ever felt.

And closer to God than I’ve ever been.

It’s all because I’ve decided to live this moment to it’s fullest. Because I’ve decided to LIVE ON PURPOSE.

No more will I “get through” a work day to get to the next big thing. No longer do I need the big tourist attractions or the large Instagram followings to make me feel alive. Because God has given me life, and it’s flowing outward from me. I can now see Him in everything. And when I am operating this way, life takes on a whole new meaning. It’s a whole new adventure!

At Kingdom Adventure Travel, we’re on a journey, a pilgrimage. A journey to know God, ourselves, and the world He’s given us to steward more intimately. And we’re doing it with all the intensity and vigor that we can muster.

Sometimes we fall down and sometimes we get lazy, but we always get back up and get running again. We’re social entrepreneurs, writers, missionaries, travelers, students, and 9-5 workers. But we all have one thing in common: We’re on a kingdom journey, chasing after the rest that is Jesus. 

KAT’s blog tells our stories. Some will be about travel, some will be about the spiritual journey, and some will be about business. But they’ll all tell the stories of pilgrims who LIVE ON PURPOSE.

Much love, 
Andrew

Adventure Comes Alive In Oxford

C.S Lewis is one of my spiritual heroes, and by all accounts one of the reasons that I still have faith. So the fact that I'm writing this blog at the very table where the Inklings -the group of writing legends that included CS Lewis and JR Tolkien- used to meet regularly to discuss their stories and dream their dreams is almost surreal to me. Classics such as Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia were birthed and nurtured in this little pub in the middle of Oxford. (The blessing that is my life hasn't escaped me. Who gets to do these things?)

 

I came to check out the pub and see where these giants of the imagination did life, but I sat down at this table for some magic. For some inspiration.

It sounds silly, but I thought...

maybe if I sat where they sat and ate where they ate, I could dream like they dreamed.

maybe whole worlds could flow from my imagination; Worlds flowing with life and beauty, and quirky characters and epic battles, and rescuing beauties and discovering deep truths.

maybe God could grab hold of my imagination like He did when I first read Narnia - when I wept because through Lewis' portrait of Aslan, I saw a God who was way better than I had ever been told or even hoped He could be.

And maybe, just maybe, God is writing me into a great story, and this could be a sweet chapter in it.

One of my favorite things Lewis ever said is, 

"Half the power in a great story is that we really wish it were true."

We really wish that dragons were real and that a brave knight had to rescue a princess while battling the beast. We really hope that the ancient Incas were warned by their spirit guides who read the night sky that the Spanish were coming to destroy them, and that they built their cities higher and higher into the Andes in hopes of safety. We really want David to have killed Goliath. I really want Rafiki to have knocked Simba over the head with a stick to remind him who he is and help him achieve his destiny.

And that's half the reason that I believe in Jesus. I believe that God has written eternity on all men's hearts, but even more than that, I believe that He has ingrained in our DNA the desire to live a great story, to live a life of meaning and purpose.

To rescue the beauty

To give ourselves for a cause greater than our own

To set this world right again.

If we sit still for a few minutes and let our minds wander, I think deep down, we all know that we were made for something more- to be caught up into something bigger. That something is wrong with this world, and it needs to be made right. That we were made for more than the life we are living.

Here's why I know this to be true: in the thousands of years before God took on flesh and blood and entered into the human story, our ancestors all over the world were telling legends and myths that, while being unique to their culture and time, contained the same core elements- the world was good, something went wrong, and we needed a hero to come and make it right, usually by dying for the cause. From Hercules to Lion King, from the ancient tales of middle eastern literature to the legends of King Arthur, the need for a savior has been woven into the imagination. And then, when Jesus of Nazareth was born into a little manger in a small middle eastern town, the legend of the Savior entered into history. Imagination became reality. Myth became fact.

I'm glad that I walk with a God who gave us an imagination to give our hearts context to hear His story.

What dreams is He giving you?

What story is He asking you to imagine for your life?

Is it becoming reality?

Are you letting Him write it?

 

-Andrew Chambers

Easter - The Reason We Travel To The Nations

It was a week ago from today-- Easter Sunday. Many acknowledge the holiday, but we all celebrate it differently. Whether it's eating chocolate and hunting eggs here in the USA, rolling colorfully designed, boiled eggs down hills in Scotland, silencing the church bells for 3 days in France, or taking part in a city's huge BBQ and treasure hunt in Argentina. Even here in the South we celebrate in our own way. Many of us dress in our all-time best to go to church, then afterwards enjoy a meal with family at the dining room table.

But as we celebrate yearly on this special and sacred day, so many times we miss the point. The story. For those church-goers, we miss it because we simply know it by heart. For those holiday church attenders, you miss it because you're day is simply about following a cultural tradition. For those who don't attend church but indulge in chocolate and search for eggs, you miss it because well, the story is simply not what you're looking for and you're indulging in material things.

You see, the Easter story should be the reason you celebrate another year. The Easter story should be the reason you feel loved on Valentine's Day regardless of whether you have a special someone or not. The Easter story should be the reason you joyfully acknowledge new life in the Spring. The Easter story should be the reason you set fireworks off in celebration of the gift of freedom on the Fourth of July. The Easter story should be the reason you can be thankful at Thanksgiving. The Easter story should be the reason you can rejoice at Christmas. The Easter story should be the reason you travel to the nations! 

DON'T MISS THE EASTER STORY: THE STORY OF UNCONDITIONAL, NEVER-ENDING, UNFAILING LOVE!

Love is universal. I've done my fair share of traveling, and one common denominator among all the people I have met along the way is the longing for love.

So I ask you, what is love?

Some may say it's two people in a fairytale romance. Some may say it's adopting a child. Some may say it's the thing holding families together in hard times. Some may say it's a lifelong friend.  I'm sure there are other examples of love as well that I have failed to mention, but is any of that true love? Or are they mere examples of it?

In remembering Easter Sunday, I wish to remind or enlighten you to what LOVE really is. Who it is. And why every human on the face of the planet longs for it. You ready?

GOD is LOVE.

LOVE is patient, kind, content, humble, meek, polite, selfless, nice, helpful, truthful, enduring, believing, hoping, bearing, and everlasting.

In the Garden of Eden, God was patient with Adam and Eve after they had sinned. When God flooded the Earth, he was kind and saved humanity through Noah. God was content with Abraham's faith resulting in saving Isaac from death by his father's hand. Not to jump too far ahead, but God indeed humbled Himself when He sent His only Son to this Earth to die and raise again in hopes to have a relationship with you and me. Jesus, both fully God and man, was meek as time after time we know He allowed people to crowd His space, follow after Him, and ask for His constant attention. Jesus was always polite noticing and healing those who would have never even been accepted by us. To encourage and guide us, God selflessly sent the Holy Spirit upon His children once Jesus had departed. While hard times and judgment from the world came upon the early church and disciples, God was nice and used everything meant for bad for furthering His Kingdom - our inheritance. The promises God has left us with in His word are not just helpful but truthful. God endured sacrifice believing in His people hoping we would follow faithfully in order to bear His purpose until we came into His everlasting presence. THIS IS LOVE. THIS IS THE THEME OF THE EASTER STORY.

So why travel? Why take the gospel to the nations? Why climb up mountains to see the breath-taking view? Why stand as waves crash at your feet? Why love even when it hurts?

BECASUE HE DID.

God traveled down from heaven, walked the valleys, was tempted on the mountain top, walked on the waves, and loved us to the point of an excruciating, physical death. That's why we LOVE. That's why we TRAVEL. That's why we celebrate EASTER.

-Loren Gambrell

Travel, Business, & God

I LOVE traveling. Yep. Love with an uppercase L-O-V and E. Over the past few years, I’ve found myself traveling for months at a time for various reasons — school credit, missions, weddings and just for adventure’s sake.

From an outsider’s perspective, constantly traveling like I did can seem glamorous. The photos, souvenirs, stamps in the passport, food, culture — you name it — it’s easy to get caught up in the perceived perfection of a life in route.

Last fall I took a 3-month business-infused road trip around the US. While on the road, I found Kurt Vonnegut’s words incredibly true: "Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God." God used this trip to teach me, guide me, and show me more of His unwavering character.

 

THE BACKSTORY: About 2 1/2 years ago I accidentally started a business. It’s called Go Rings. As a senior in college, I started making and selling these little golden rings to raise funds for an 11 month mission trip I took to 11 countries. It’s called the World Race. The rings have 11 loops which represent the 11 countries reached and 7 bindings representing the 7 team members I’d have on the journey.

 

These rings were relief from the burdensome question on my shoulders at the time: How the heck am I going to raise $16,000 without sounding desperate or pathetic? Well, thanks to a strategic branding approach, the magic of the internet, uber-supportive friends and God’s straight-up provision, Go Rings completely funded my $16,000 World Race trip. Awesome, right?! I think so, too. Ok. Back to it.

While I was finishing up my time on the World Race last spring, I felt like God was telling me to travel for the sake of Go Rings — to continue this business by traveling the country, making connections and learning about what it takes to have a successful brand. I sensed that this idea was from God, because I couldn’t get it off of my mind. I dreamt about it, was fixated on it, and just knew in my bones it’s what I needed to do. So when fall rolled around, I resolved to be obedient, take a perceived risk, pack up my car and hit the road for 3 months.

At each stop I planned meet up's with connections that I thought I could learn from — business owners, buyers, creatives, bloggers, number crunchers, non-profit gurus, and so on. I’ve found that running a small business requires my hand in to be in all aspects of operations. While the variety and responsibility are exciting, there’s no way that one person (or at least this girl) can be gifted in every facet of business. I know that there are so many areas in which Go Rings can improve. Like… SO many. I think it’s healthy to glean from those who have strengths that I definitely don’t have, so in each city I’d grab coffee with these people, ask a ton of questions, soak up their wisdom and usually leave energized or inspired. The goal was to pick up quality nuggets of advice from these admirable professionals that could shape Go Rings into a stronger, fresher, more focused brand.


So. I left in late August from my hometown: Dallas, TX. First, I made a quick trip down to Mexico to teach women how to manufacture Go Rings — it was such a cool opportunity to see our little company tangibly develop before my eyes.

After leaving Texas, I headed eastward making my way through Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. The itinerary was in constant revision, because opportunities in different cities kept popping up. Staying patient and open to flexibility wasn’t easy, but it ended up blessing Go Rings in the long run. 


At the beginning of October, I headed up the East Coast, getting more and more opportunities to spread the word about what God was up to with Go Rings. Throughout the Carolinas, D.C, New York City and Boston, I came across both good times and business-catapulting connections. Next? Westward!

I was in Michigan for the first time and spent 4 days with no business meetings making it from Chicago to Seattle. After learning a ton in Portland, over the course of two weeks I cruised down the 101 all the way down Cali, then cutting eastward to make it home to Texas by Thanksgiving. 

Even though this wasn’t a “mission trip” — God had so much purpose for me in this journey. The road trip lacked consistency that I was used to having in both my business and in my faith. It was hard — no lie. 

Looking back at the end of the trip, I could see that He wanted to show me how He works authentic faith and bold obedience for my good and His glory… even when I struggled to believe that He is good or I chose to not follow Him. 


Before the trip, I knew Jesus wanted to grow my business and faith — but —  by the end of the trip I realized that He did that in TOTALLY different ways than I had anticipated.

I thought this would be the most connected I’d ever be with God… I mean, I was doing this whole thing to follow what He said… right? Well, instead it was the most doubt-filled period of my faith I’ve ever had. I was so frustrated. I felt like a fake Christian. But you know what? It turns out that the doubt put my faith through a furnace. I had time to seek what I truly believed at my core and came out stronger.

 

With Go Rings, the connections I thought we’d benefit the most from turned out to be totally unattainable. I couldn’t get a lot of meetings that I wanted to. I thought we’d have more answers by the end of the tour. I’m happy to announce that I was totally wrong. He blessed the heck out of our business in ways I didn’t see coming.


When it comes down to it, I’m so happy that I was obedient and took this 3-month plunge. It’s neat how God can use travel to strip us of what’s familiar and make Himself more fully known. Truly following Jesus, I’ve found, is never boring. I’m thankful for His patience with me, the adventures we walked through together, and His promises fulfilled. Now, on to the next trip!

-Darcie

Playing Football, Seeing the World!

After playing college football, an opportunity presented itself for me to play and coach football in Europe. This journey is taking me to a country that appears on most "Top 10 Most Beautiful Countries of the World" lists: Norway!

I have the job of playing football as well as coaching for a youth team for the organization. My job will allow me to see a lot of the country, and I will also get an opportunity to see some of other parts of Europe as well. It’s already apparent that traveling is awesome, but when you attach a greater purpose, it makes it so much better! This is more to me than getting paid to play a game; This is more to me than seeing some more of the world (although they’re awesome perks!)… This is about making an impact.

Now this trip isn’t like most of that nature. I am not in a place where material necessities are limited, it’s actually quite the opposite here. Yet my main purpose is to influence those around me. If they can become grateful for what they have, if they can recognize how much God has blessed them, and if they can understand they are created for so much more on this earth, then that will complete my trip. Playing football, coaching football, and traveling are all passions of mine, but with having a greater purpose in mind my passions can make an impact where I travel.

I have been to many countries serving on mission trips. During these journeys I have seen much of the world. I’ve bumped into different wonders of the world, experienced adventures like playing with tigers and being on the world’s highest rope swing, but for some reason when I think back to those trips my first thought is always the lives of the people I came across.

See the real world out there, make an impact, and travel with a purpose!

-Daniel Chantlos

Travel With A Purpose

My team and I were in Cambodia to teach, but God knew we were there for more. When you travel with a purpose, you will not only have amazing adventures, but God will use you as His hands and feet for His good work.

Cambodia was our December destination to help teach English to local children. Each day looked roughly the same. Four of us taught English in an elementary school, and the other three of us taught English at a church to preschoolers. However, on Wednesday, December 20th, God interrupted our ‘normal’ routine.

Our host, we call him Pastor, drove his tuk tuk* into the front yard and four of my teammates and I hopped in. On our way to our respective locations, we were chatting about our lesson plans. Would we yet again go over the alphabet? Would the children understand if we tried to teach them something new? What if we tried more visual aids?

As we neared the school, I looked out to the left where I saw the fields of crop waiting for harvesters. Cambodia is absolutely breathtaking.

Moments later, I noticed something ahead on the side of the road. I could make out white cloth and what looked like knees. We passed the thing, and immediately I knew it was a ‘him’. I looked at the girls across from me in the tuk tuk and said, “Wait, that was a human.”

As I said these words, Pastor began to slow down. He parked the tuk tuk, and we both hurried to the man. He was an older man, gray and thin. His white beard twitched, and his tanned legs were crumbled under his body. He looked like he had been lying in the sun for hours.

“Is he alive?” I said grabbing his arm.

His clothes were tattered, and his skin was hot to the touch. I noticed a walking cane that had fallen a few feet to his left. He had no doubt collapsed in the Cambodian heat.

Pastor looked at me and said, “This man is a witch doctor. He is the ‘magic man’, and he walks all over the community practicing his beliefs.”

I immediately began praying, because I knew that this was not a coincidental encounter. Pastor began speaking to the unresponsive man in Khmer* as he lifted his pale face. One of my other teammates had ran up behind us and passed me her water bottle as the other three remained praying in the tuk tuk. I poured some for the man to drink as Pastor opened his mouth. The man sipped slowly as his eyes remained closed.   

Pastor looked at us and said, “He is going to die here in this sun. Help me move him over to the shade.”

We lifted his frail body and moved him a few feet. Another teammate had walked up, removed her cardigan, and propped his head off the ground. I took more water and washed his face, legs, and arms hoping that it would cool his fever.

“Well, do we leave him here or what?” Pastor asked us.

The five of us looked at one another and decided that this was not an option. How could we leave a man to die? Collectively, we decided to find and deliver him to his home. We loaded him in the tuk tuk and propped him up on our shoulders.  I grabbed his hand and one of my teammates stroked his silver hair. Each of us prayed over him as we tried to give him more water.  

A few kilometers down the road, Pastor turned the tuk tuk into the man’s driveway. Two women, the older one gardening and the younger one sitting with her children, looked at us and were startled to see their loved one passed out. Pastor hopped off the tuk tuk to explain the situation to them, and they received the news with gratitude for our help.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” the younger woman said as we carried the man to a table near his tree house*.

We said one last prayer over him, and we left for our school sites. As we traveled down the road, I felt strongly that we needed to visit the man and his family again the next day.

The next morning we set out for the home. As we pulled up in the family’s yard, the two women invited us upstairs where the man was lying on a mat. We entered, and the man slowly lifted his head. He looked at each of us as we kneeled around him. He looked much more responsive today. Pastor explained in Khmer what happened yesterday, and why we were back. The man looked confused but nodded his head.

Pastor looked at us and said, “Everyone living in the community is afraid of this man, because he practices magic. What do you wish to say to him?”

We paused.

“Well, have they heard about Jesus?” I asked.

“No, they have not. They believe in Buddha,” he responded.

My team and I looked at one another, smiled, and shared the gospel. We shared the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. We shared our stories of living life with Jesus. We explained that God is relational, that He speaks to us, and that He desires to know us.

The younger girl (the man’s granddaughter) began to weep. We prayed over the family. We prayed for healing over the man, and we lead the girl in a salvation prayer.

As we were preparing to leave, the older woman grabbed my hand and showed me her right arm and leg. Pastor translated and told me that her right side was immobile due to high blood pressure and potentially a stroke. We laid hands on her and asked for God’s healing. When the prayer was finished, she smiled, moved her right hand, and said that it was better (praise God!).

She looked up at Pastor and looked around at us. She asked him how long he had known us. He told her he had only known us a few weeks, and we were leaving for Thailand soon. She responded by saying that she could tell there was something different about us that she had not experienced before.

“It’s all because of Jesus,” I said smiling.

-Sue

 

*A tuk tuk is the ‘local transportation’ of Cambodia. It is a motorcycle that pulls a trailer with seats on it

*Khmer is the official language in Cambodia

 *Most of the homes in the village where we stay are referred to as ‘tree houses’. They are typically one or two rooms (usually 10x10 with wooden walls and wooden floors) raised on beams for flooding purposes  

 

Adventure: Sand Boarding or Earthquake Refugee Living?

At Kingdom Adventure Travel, we believe in adventure. We believe in fun: experiencing and doing things you never imagined possible for you. We believe in pushing your limits and in getting out of your comfort zone. Most importantly, we believe in changing the world. We believe that the world is beautiful and full of excitement, but also broken and in great need of healing and love. We believe that it's our responsibility as humans to not only explore and enjoy the world, but also to create and cultivate in it- to steward it well. That's why we send people on out-of-the-ordinary, perspective-changing, community-empowering vacations; because, we were all created for adventure, for an abundant life, and for the good of all Creation and everyone in it! 

While meditating on this recently, I came across this blog from a few years ago by Seth Barnes, the founder of Adventures in Missions and our featured blogger for today. Seth has lived a life of adventure and mission that has taken him all around the globe, chasing God and the redemption that He has in store for the world. I believe Seth embodies what it looks like to be a Kingdom Adventure Traveler, and I hope this excerpt creates a longing in your heart for more. Enjoy>>

"I don't understand this numb, sedentary life that a lot of us lead. We were made for adventure. We were born with the DNA of God coursing thru our veins. The world's needs are great, and we were given all the resources we will ever require to go meet them - to shine his brilliant light in dark places.

We're told it can't happen, that they're too far away and the price is too dear. It's a bunch of lies and nonsense. Listen to what a blog reader wrote me on Thursday:

'I work in an office, I do sales for a publication that is devoted to trades. I constantly feel anxious, like I'm wasting my life, like this isn't the purpose God had for me when he made me... but I've done my own thing for so long that I am becoming entangled in the office spacer life...I worry about money. I don't know how I can provide for my wife if I live a life different than this one...but I hate this one.'

Can you relate? If so, let me in on a secret that will set you free! This life that you're leading is the only one you're ever going to have. You were made for adventure. Not the narcissistic kind that doesn't touch people, but the adventure of trusting God and doing great things. 

A few years ago, one of our teams from Adventures in Missions was in Peru, having the time of their lives helping the victims of the devastating earthquake there. One team took a break from their ministry to go sand boarding, a thrill most of us didn't even know existed. But the real adventure came afterwards when they said, "Yes, we've provided the refugees with roofs, electricity, and fumigation, but we want to really feel what they feel." After praying about it, they went with their backpacks and sleeping bags to live with them for the better part of a week. 
They are there now. 
Now that's what I call an adventure. It's what we were all made for!"

-Seth Barnes // Adventures In Missions

Market Hopping Tips

How to master the marketplace:

When I travel to a new country, one of my favorite things to do is explore the local market. Whether it’s the Night Bazaar in Chiang Mai, the Russian Market in Phnom Penh, or the veritable buffet of artisans and vendors in Antigua, each one offers a different cultural experience and of course some cool souvenirs to take home.  

Step inside, and you’re met with loud music and brilliant colors from every angle. Vendors call out from their booths and tables, selling everything from clothing to decorations to accessories to handcrafted goods… it can be overwhelming at first. But it’s not as intimidating as it looks, and there a few things you can do to make sure you have the best market experience possible.

1. Jump right in.

The best way to get started is to take a walk through the market, look around, and get an idea of what you might want to buy. You don’t have to respond to every vendor who calls you over, insisting that they have the best products and prices; A simple “hello” will do as you go about your business.  

When you finally decide what you want, the theatrics begin. You want to look interested but not too interested – if there’s something you absolutely want, don’t show it on your face, because the vendor will pick up on it and give you a higher starting price. Even if you know exactly what you’re looking for, pause for a minute or two. The vendor will show you things they think you might want, and you can take your time before selecting an item.  

When you’ve decided, the vendor will sometimes ask how much you want to pay for it – what your “best price” is. Don’t fall for that – they know that the average tourist doesn’t know how much something is worth and want you to start high. Let them make a first move. The first price they give you is going to be much higher than they expect you to pay, and a tourist will be charged more than a local. The typical rule of thumb is to take the first offer and cut it in half, but the vendors are onto this trick as well. There’s no guarantee it’s really a good method. Regardless, after you hear the first offer, start it lower than you’d like to pay, so you have a better chance of working towards a good price. (But don’t go too low that it’s unrealistic – you want them to take you seriously.) The vendor will reduce their price, and you’ll work your way to the middle. It might seem rude or stingy, but it’s all part of the experience. Even the vendors know that.

 

2. Speak the local language if you can.

Now, if you’re in a country where you don’t even know how to say hello, don’t worry; Most of the vendors will know enough English to make transactions. However, if you do know a few conversational phrases, this is the perfect opportunity to practice!  Not only does speaking the language help you get better prices, you can make small talk with the vendors, meet interesting people, and make their day a little better when they’re being ignored by most people walking by. It’s also a learning opportunity - if you want to know how to say a certain word, just ask.  

 

3.  Barter as much as you’d like, but be polite.

American/western tourists have a reputation for being impolite, obnoxious, and pretentious. In addition to common courtesy, there are a few things to remember:

• You are never obligated to buy anything from the get-go. If you stop by a stand to browse but don’t find anything you want, it’s perfectly acceptable to say “No, thank you,” and walk away, even if the vendor pesters you a little bit.  

• That being said, if you offer a price, you are committing to pay it. Walking away from a vendor’s offer is one thing, but not being willing to pay a price you initiate is rude. (That’s why you start low, so you have a better chance of getting a price you like.)

• Don’t get too hung up on the final price, because the difference might not be any more than a dollar or two. It will still be a better deal than you would get at home.

 

4.  Don’t take it too seriously - have fun!

When you’re in search for that gift or memento of your travels, it can be easy to stress about getting the best bargain for the perfect item. The good news is that many of the stands and booths will sell similar goods, so if you don’t absolutely love something or think you can get a better deal elsewhere, another option won’t be too far away. You also won’t be a bartering wizard right away - like any other skill, it takes practice. Go for the new experience, and maybe you’ll leave with some unique treasures or even a new friend.



- Sarah Michel is a writer, vlogger, musician, and traveler who wears many figurative and literal hats. You can find her online at sarahmichelwrites.com 

From Story-Time to Storyteller

"There's always room for a story that can transport people to another place." --J.K. Rowling


I'm a sucker for a good story. When I was little, I remember the giddy anticipation of knowing my parents were going to read me a story before bed - or even better - a story they made up on their own.

As a kid, story-time was my best form of travel. I'd close my eyes and teleport into the illustration. I explored by slipping my feet into someone else's shoes. Now, I'm exploring and there's no need to close my eyes or live vicariously to experience stories. I've been traveling for five months, and I've experienced at least five countries throughout Africa and Asia - places full of stories to share. My experiences have become the story and there are more chapters to come.

With eyes and heart wide open, I have learned that stories provide not only insight into someone else's world but also lend perspective into my own as well.

Traveling has helped me realize this. Once you know a person's or place's story, the more you can better understand. Stories provide a lens to look at the world through someone else's eyes. The more I spend time exploring creation and hearing stories from places, people and cultures - the more I understand them and can get a glimpse of the world through a stranger's eyes. How cool is that?

I'm used to sharing stories through writing, but I decided to give videos a shot during my travels. Each month, I've been soaking in my travels through a camera lens. Whether I was crashing a wedding in Cambodia, surfing in South Africa, singing and dancing with children in Lesotho, sleeping in tents in Swaziland, or trying local foods in Vietnam - I’ve loved expressing the patchwork of sights and sounds from different cultures. The more I try to accurately capture a moment, the more I realize my passion for sharing stories.

I feel so alive when I get to capture children's giggles, real moments and people in community together.  I love finding the right light and angles to best display the moment I'm in. I thrive off of getting to know the stories of people and places, and helping other people understand them as well.

Not all stories are happy. After I left my comfortable bubble,  I witnessed how much hurt and brokenness our world holds. For me, experiencing this first hand brought the reality that our world needs to hear stories of hope in the midst of struggle. Our stories show our scars, but more importantly they show how we have healed and become stronger from our worldly wounds. The best feeling is when I get to help share those testimonies with others; They can provide a "me too" that can help people feel like they're not alone.

I've seen God's handiwork through massive waterfalls. I've felt small and insignificant standing on top of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. I've actually felt the richness and fullness of life the most when I've had the least - sleeping on floors without any of the comforts of home.

I think it's important for others to experience different people, places, and cultures. Traveling has made me realize how many stories there are out there to tell. When I piece together the collage of video clips from my month, or write down a story of an experience that changed my perspective, my hope is that people can feel like they're traveling with me.

When I was younger I loved hearing stories, but now through my own adventure I get to be the storyteller. I never would have realized my love for sharing stories without leaving home and seeking a different perspective. Sometimes it takes leaving the comfortable to find ourselves and our passions clearly. Stepping outside my bubble made me realize what makes me feel alive.

So my encouragement to you is:

Go out. Explore. Experience culture. Listen to stories. Soak it in. Change your perspective. Find your passion. Pass it on.

-Sue Kafoglis

Postcard Beauty

“Wish I could be there. Wish I could see that.”

The thoughts which crossed my mind while staring at a breath-taking photograph printed on cardstock. The thoughts never faded. My imagination thrived in creating a world where I would travel to every country and see beauty at its finest. In the year of 2010, my dream began to unfold into a reality.

 

 

My name is Loren Gambrell. I’m 24 years old, and I’m here to attempt a painting with words that will hopefully show you how beautiful the world outside your window is. My hope -- You realize true beauty is incomparable to your expectation of it.

 

In high school, I was given the opportunity to travel to Brasil. (And yes, I know I spelt it “wrong,” but that’s how they spell it over there.) In college, I took the opportunity to travel to Canada. Shortly after graduation, I applied to travel worldwide. I’ve now traveled to over 13 countries and through many more. Please don’t misunderstand me. The United States has its own share of beauty, but in the same breathe, please accept the fact that beauty is different than our culture defines here in freedom country.

 

“BEAUTY:  the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.”

 

This is the definition of “beauty” by the famous Merriam-Webster. Can I ask you something? What is it in the postcard or photograph that triggers that word? Is it the sun rays bouncing off the snow-capped mountain range? Or maybe it’s the crystal, turquoise waters crashing onto a sandy, white beach? What about a photograph of a southeastern asian market? Would the word “beauty” pop into your mind then? Or how about a photograph of starving children kicking around a football? (Yes, I said kicking. Their footballs are our soccer balls.)

 

I could provide you with more examples, but you’re probably already thinking things like, “Making a postcard of a market? Okay maybe, but of starving children playing? Is she serious?!” The answer -- yes, quite. Remember my hope for you in the beginning? Start applying yourself towards it.

 

Most of us with a wanderlust spirit have stood among mountain peaks or witnessed water-colored skies whilst reclining on gritty grains. You may call it Mother Nature’s finest, but I believe it to be God’s unfathomable, artistic ability. And it’s beautiful. It holds much beauty. So much so, it causes us to stop and gaze for minutes on end with our mind inside of an awe moment we couldn’t capture with a lens though many of us have tried. Thus, Merriam-Webster defines beauty well in this aspect by placing the word “pleasure” in the definition. It brings much pleasure to see such magnificence.

 

But imagine with me for a minute the market in Southeastern Asia. For those of us who may have never been there, let me set the scene. It’s morning, and it’s hot. Really hot. Not like summers for the stateside northerners when temps hit 90’s and not like summers for the stateside southerners when temps hit 110. (Mid-west and West coast, I’m not sure what the weather is like over there.) Regardless, when I mention it was hot, imagine inescapable, desert-sun, equator-line, hot. Okay, so now that you can feel the temperature, let’s tend to your other senses. All you hear is an asian language being exchanged between everyone, but especially between people who notice you - the American. The sight consists of hanging meats: sausages and t-bones covered with flies; basketed fruits and veggies: apples, peppers, potatoes along with some you’ve never seen nor heard of; uniced fish and seafood: lake fish and small shrimps. All the while you walk down a very narrow path in which locals sit elbow-to-elbow lining on either side. All you smell is the remnants of the slaughtered, the blood trickling between your feet down through the path, and the stench of uniced fish.

 

Congratulations on now having a slight idea of what it’s like to walk the outdoor markets of Southeastern Asia. At this point, let me ask you, “Does the word ‘beauty’ come to your mind when picturing a southeastern asian market?” Probably not huh? What if I told you I left something out of the details? Something you can’t see with your eyes, smell with your nose, or hear with your ears in that moment when you’re looking at that postcard or photograph.

 

These women and men selling their goods in the markets are living off what they raise, garden, or fish for. They have families miles off in which they return home to by foot or bike nightly to cook for (on a good day.) These people have a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, lifelong routine that is unbreakable due to their need for survival. So many turn noses up and look for the closest “western” store. I was one of those. Until I heard some of their stories and saw some of their homes. All my stomach longed for was American food, until I sat down with a local and ate a meal in which I had no clue of its contents and was sure it’d make me sick. The beauty was never the market itself. It was interesting, but not beautiful. The beauty was in the people’s stories. The people’s generosity. Two things you can’t see but yet still put you inside a moment of awe.

 

Are you starting to gain some insight? Wanting to stop reading in order to still be able to deny that your expectations of beauty are shallow only due to the ignorance of its full resolution? Let’s go through one more example. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Oh no...not the starving kids.” Why yes, I’m going to share with you the beauty of starving children.

 

So clear your mind of the market. Now, again, it’s hot. (Remember how I described hot.) You and your team of adventurers are wandering down a dirt road in Africa. Your Chaos don’t shield your feet from much of the dirt that is now building up to be a pretty good sunblock. The clothes on your back are working as a sponge soaking in all the sweat your body is exuding. All you want is some shade and a cold Coke-a-Cola. While walking this dirt path, you stumble upon a small, remote village. The homes are made from mud bricks and thatch. You see old women topless with a long skirt sweeping out their home’s dirt floor with a broom made of a branch, some thatch, and a string. The only men around are elderly and all bunched together chatting about things only a fluent translator could understand. Then you see the kids - skin and bones - kicking a football. They are laughing and screaming while playing with some killer skills. In one moment’s notice, the men and women’s attention turns onto you all. In another, the kids start running in your direction. The football game is now on hold, and you all are their main concern. They’ve never seen white skin or blue eyes. Some of us have red hair. They don’t speak your language, but they don’t mind speaking to you in theirs. Before long, you have a kid on your back, three or four holding your hand, and several more crowded around just you. Now multiply that by the number of those you’re traveling with, and you’ll get a scene. It doesn’t take long before they all want the foreigners to play in their game of football with them. They grab your hands and arms and drag you to the flat, dirt field with no lines as boundaries and short shrubs as goal markers. Some of you play, others of you cheer over to the side whilst kids sit in your lap and braid your hair. (Forewarning, the braid won’t be easy to get out!) When the game is over, they’ll beg you not to leave...And you’ll cry as you do.

 

The beauty of starving children isn’t in the category we subject them to: starving. It’s in the love that they share. If you know the awe moment of a mountain peak, great. But it’s nothing like an awe moment of being on a football team of starving, african kids. By miraculously showing up and spending time with them, you’ve made their day, maybe even their year. By playing football with starving kids, because that’s all you can give, part of your day has been stamped into an unforgettable moment of a lifetime.

 

I’m a photographer. And my following thoughts to “Wish I could be there. Wish I could see that,” are “I could never capture all forms of beauty.” I’ve tried. The pictures of the market are quite well-angled and well-lit. Yet people’s minds go straight to the emotion in relation to the poverty they see in the photograph. The pictures of the football game with the kids came out wonderful. But people who see them only feel sadness or sympathy for kids in such a world. I’ve got photographs of beautiful mountain tops and breath-taking beaches. But if someone were to ask me which photographs I believe are the most beautiful, without hesitation, I’d answer, “The Storytelling Market and Starving for Football.”


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, yes. But, if you ask me, beauty is more so tucked away inside the heart of a traveler.

-Loren Gambrell

Inspirations from Kingdom Travels

Welcome to Kingdom Adventure Travel’s new blog page, Kingdom Travels! As a company, our desire is to foster and create community wherever we go. We hope to open folks’ eyes to the glories of adventure and travel. Trust me when I say that the graces of doing life outside our own cultural context, even if for a short time, will positively impact the way that we see and interact with the world, at home and abroad. Doing business the Kingdom way is the only way that you want to do it!

That’s why we’ve created this new blog page, to help inspire you before and after the adventure. We can’t travel every week of the year, but we can listen and tell stories that will jump-start our next adventure, inform our perspectives on world and culture, and update readers on the great work people are doing through social entrepreneurship and travel worldwide!

Because we are a company that believes in exploring, creating and cultivating- all in conjunction with social entrepreneurship and justice- we’ve tailored our blog page to help keep you updated on these spheres of influence. You’ll find everything from travel destinations and new trip listings to tips on how to barter at a market the fair way, interviews with other social enterprises that are making a difference in the world to stories of people just like you that have made a difference while traveling!

At KAT, we consider everyone we interact with family, so we wish for YOU to be a part of this (no really, we do). We encourage interaction in our comments section, and would also love to hear from you! Maybe you have a story that you want to tell, a company doing awesome things that you think deserves attention, or traveling tips to give! Let us know, we’d love to feature you!

We look forward to journeying with you,

Andrew
Lead Adventurer, Founder