"We’ve found a destination alone cannot fill the soul. For us, we find deep meaning and joy in serving others, even in little insignificant ways."
AGÁPĒ LOVE is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love that sees beyond the outer surface, accepting regardless of flaws, shortcomings or faults.
This kind of love is all about sacrifice as well as giving and expecting nothing in return.
Having set out on their sailboat and temporary home named Agápē, lovers Rachel and Josh continue on their 5 year journey around the world. Both born and raised in Southern California, they grew up near the ocean and inevitably fell in love with the water at an early age.
Sharing a passion for travel and adventure naturally set these newlyweds on an adventure that many of us can only dream of. They decided to document and share all of their experiences and the Voyages of Agápē.
These two share passion not only for adventure and curiosity, but for giving back to others in need. They dedicate time on their journey to helping villages and organizations along the way. Below they talk about their greatest struggles of living on a boat, and what they've found truly matters the most.
For our collaboration with Voyages of Agápē, Rachel and Josh are bringing home some of their favorite goods from their recent trip to Guatemala!
---> A portion of the proceeds from this collab will go to an organization dear to their heart.
SOUL SHAPERS: Quick background of where you guys are from and the path that lead you to where you are now:
We are Josh and Rachel... Josh grew up life guarding, surfing, swimming and playing water polo, he also grew up sailing and lived on a wooden boat for a short period of time. I loved swimming and began scuba diving at the age of 14, I also studied aquatic biology and scuba dove for the National Park Service for three years. After growing up on or near the water, sailing seemed like perfect way to continue pursuing our dream of a life on the water.
SS: Where did your love and knowledge of sailboats come from?
RACHEL: Josh grew up sailing and racing sailboats. He fell in love with the ocean as a child and has never stopped pursuing a life on the water. As for me, I grew up near the ocean but didn’t start sailing until I met Josh. We've both taken basic sailing courses and have chartered boats. Our knowledge of sailing is continually growing as we sail Agápē and crew on other boats.
SS: How did you guys decide to take a 5 year trip around the world?
RACHEL: Originally, the first few years of our relationship we were saving up for a one year backpacking trip through South America. Backpacking was how I was used to traveling and seeing the world and it seemed like the most affordable option for us as newlyweds. As we were saving, Josh threw out the idea of traveling by boat instead, and he slowly began showing me sailboats listed for sale in our area. Our idea of traveling slowly morphed into a different type of journey where we could see the world within the comforts of our home. After saving for a few years we had enough to buy Agape, and another two years later we had saved enough for our journey.
SS: Where does your passion for helping others and volunteering along your travels root from? Have you guys always volunteered around home, or was there an awakening moment for the demand of help out there?
RACHEL: For years now, we have traveled around the world and enjoyed some of the most beautiful places this planet has to offer, and yet each time we return home we find the destination has not satisfied the deep wanderlust with in us. Each time we return we immediately begin thinking of whats next.
As we planned this trip we knew we didn’t want to sail around the world only to come back to start thinking about our next great adventure. We’ve found a destination alone cannot fill the soul. For us, we find deep meaning and joy in serving others, even in little insignificant ways. Seeking out the broken places in the world humbles us and teaches us to have greater compassion and empathy. We find the experiences where we get to give back leave us with a deep sense of gratitude in our lives.
SS: How did you decide and find the means to donate the proceeds of your sponsored posts to those in need throughout your journey? Are you financially supporting yourselves in other ways to allow your generous donations from sponsors?
RACHEL: Josh always wanted us to make short videos to share our journey, and seeing how others used Patreon to help continue their dream inspired him as a way to continue making money after we quit our jobs. I was always inspired to document and share our journey but I didn't feel comfortable asking others to support our dream. Josh and I have both worked since we were 14 years old and have saved for everything we thought we needed over the years and we did our best to never carry debt. We worked hard the last several years to save to do this trip how we wanted. We wanted to make sure we didn't need to sell out to corporations for sponsorships or try to rally donations to make it happen.
One night while talking over the Patreon idea, I threw out the idea to Josh of what it might look like if we gave it all away. After all, that's what Agápē means, it's an unconditional, self sacrificing love. For now we could use whatever funds that came in to meet the very real needs of others we meet along the way. He immediately agreed and we haven't second guessed our decision since. It just felt right.
SS: What have been the biggest challenges for you as a couple on this brave journey?
RACHEL: I think the hardest part has been leaving behind our family, friends and community. When you leave everything behind to move to a foreign country, you quickly realize how much you filled your life with routine and activities to stay busy. On the water, life slowed down in a new way for us, it really put a magnifying glass on us and our relationship. Here, we have to be each other's friend, partner, co-worker, team mate and family. We are everything to each other and it's easy to find our shortcomings. We are constantly learning how to better support one another and it's been a tremendous gift growing in new ways and falling in love all over again.
SS: What have been the biggest challenges for you two with natural elements of the sea and living on a Sailboat?
RACHEL: Josh is pretty lucky, he doesn't get seasick, but on occasion I do and it's never fun. The more time we spend on the water the easier it gets for me.
More recently though as we've moved in to Central America and hurricane season approaches, the lightning storms at night can be really scary. Lighting sometimes strikes so close the thunder literally shakes the boat. I'm not sure I'll ever get used to it.
SS: How long are the periods of time you guys actually spend in the boat, and time spent back at home?
RACHEL: We lived aboard Agápe for two years full time before we left, and now we've been cruising for just over seven months. There are days where we don't leave the boat and others where we feel comfortable leaving her behind to adventure inland. I've also been lucky enough to continue working and have had the opportunity to fly home a few times to make some money and catch up with family and friends. Now, as we move into hurricane season though we will be leaving the boat in a safe location to do some inland travels through Central America and visit home for a few weeks.
"We are all just too busy, but when you slow down and look someone in the eye and take the time to see the world from a different perspective, it's truly a gift."
SS: What are some mindsets or perspectives that carry you throughout your every day life that allow you to strive for a balance between your family/work back at home and traveling on your own across the world?
RACHEL: I found that living presently has made all the difference. For years we lived dreaming of the future or thinking of how we could have done things differently. Now, we try our best to really live in the present, to enjoy what is right in front of us, since tomorrow chances are it won't be there. Living this nomadic lifestyle it's easy to miss people or things back at home, but when we focus on the beautiful people and places we see each day it shifts our perspective from what we don't have to what we do. Cultivating thankfulness and gratitude in our lives has really brought a balance to the crazy ups and downs of cruising.
SS: What is the number one message you guys have discovered on your journey that you'd like to convey to your followers?
RACHEL: Slow down. Slow way down. Life moves so fast and we miss opportunities each day to connect in a genuine way with others. So often we walk by each other with eyes down or on our phones. No one smiles or says hello anymore, we are all just too busy, but when you slow down and look someone in the eye and take the time to see the world from a different perspective, it's truly a gift.
SS: What are some tools you recommend for others, or that have helped you to shape your souls?
RACHEL: Two of our favorite books are, "Keep Your Love On" by Danny Silk and "Emotionally, Healthy, Spirituality". Both have given us the tools to move forward into uncomfortable or hard areas in our lives and with others. Some of our favorite podcasts are, Invisabilia, The Liturgists Podcast, This American Life, Bridgetown Audio and TED radio hour.
SS: Who's Soul do you think you've helped shape lately?
RACHEL: Honestly every person we think we are serving, really shapes our soul. It's hard to know what kind of an impact we leave on people but we will always remember how they made us feel. We will always remember Kathy, Angel, Javier, Uziel, Naynay, Gabriel and so many other orphans we have met. We will not forget the faces of the men and women that show up each day to serve these children with love; it's these people that serve with unconditional love day in and day out that inspire us.
We hope that our lives somehow shape the souls of the people we spend time with, serve and love. We hope that as we try to live our lives with a little more kindness and generosity it inspires others to walk out those same qualities in theirs.
Agápē is love in the verb form: it is love demonstrated by your behavior towards another person. It is a committed and chosen love.