On the Brink of a Life-changing Event as I Explore the Great Barrier Reef and the World-Famous Whitehaven Beach

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“As I saw you through the large windows, walking towards the door from across the road, all I could think was… Wow… I just couldn’t believe how beautiful you were.”

Following the path organically unfolding before me, I was on my next flight. After a quick stay back up in Sydney, I hopped further north, taking flights to Brisbane then Mackay, a smaller city in northern Queensland. From there I was picked up by the sweet older couple I would be housesitting for in the cutest home for the next several weeks, just two blocks from a beautiful beach in Shoal Point. Their home was a gorgeous tropical garden complete with wild exotic birds coming and going freely, and the semi frequent appearance from quite large, sometimes lethal snakes. It was once again a peace-filled escape. And, as money was dwindling, it was now time for me to contemplate making my way back to America to make a living.

This was not at all what my heart desired, and not at all the way I thought this journey would end, but it was time for me to be sensible and realize I hadn’t landed an overseas job that would keep me going. Decent online jobs were few and far between. With disappointment penetrating my heart, I made a few phone calls to friends to discuss and get feedback on the options that lay before me. I reluctantly agreed that it seemed it was time to begin applying for jobs in that states… but, the phrase “keep writing” continued to pursue the overtaking of my thoughts.

Shoal Point, with its huge tides, hot coastal weather, and endless sugar cane fields, has deceitfully alluring beaches that would appeal to any living soul, surviving in the heat of the sun, to take a dip. Many of these beautiful beaches are also home to salt water crocodiles waiting to stalk their next meal, and the infamous box jellyfish. It is an intoxicatingly beautiful landscape hiding an array of deadly creatures both on its land and in its sea.

I was determined to explore it all so I hired a boat and jetted out to the Great Barrier Reef. With my fins in hand and full protective wetsuit suit on, I dove in and it was pure magic. Swimming into the depths along a sea trench, it quickly got so dark I could barely see what was in front of me. A bit of fear sunk in and I quickly decided it only made sense to stay shallow enough so I could see the beauty around me. Encircled in various coral, mollusks, giant sea turtles, and a variety of colorful fish, I was in my element feeling grateful for this life. As I boated back to shore I asked around about a swimmable beach. I got in my car and drove to what appeared to be another secluded sandy beach cove.

As I walked along the shoreline, I was in deep thought and prayer. I noticed there weren’t many shells at all, mostly just driftwood pieces, rocks, and some very broken shell pieces. As I strolled, I wondered if I would ever have a partner in this life, someone to share these experiences with and grow with. Not really expecting an answer, in that moment, I half-heartedly asked God, that if I He did have that for me in the near future, that He would tell me now by giving me the biggest whole shell I have ever found on any beach in this world. I immediately got a flash of an image in my mind of a whole, light orange patterned, cone shell. I walked maybe 6 more feet and there it was. With no other whole shells around it, lay the largest, fully intact shell I have ever randomly come upon, and it happened to be a cone shell with a light orange pattern on it. I was in disbelief. I immediately went to the thought that this could be the craziest coincidence to happen to me; so, I asked again. I asked that if this wasn’t a coincidence that God show me by giving me another large, fully intact shell. And again, about ten more feet away there was another very large, fully intact shell. I walked the rest of the beach more than once and these were in fact, the only whole shells I ever found.

The next day a neighbor came over and introduced herself to me. She worked in a professional kitchen and had been a nun for 30 years prior. We went on a few short beach walks together as she told me stories of her past and what led her to become a nun. She invited me to a karaoke night her workplace was hosting at a local restaurant bar the coming Friday evening. I wasn’t quite sure about going, but she assured me it wasn’t just work people but their friends and families as well. I agreed.

My next expedition from this part of the world was to the Whitsunday Islands. This small cluster of tiny islands lies off the coast of Arlie Beach in North Eastern Australia, and these islands, are what heaven must look like. Home to the world-famous Whitehaven Beach, with the whitest and finest sand I’ve ever seen. Many of these beaches are secluded and appear untouched. These were by far the most beautiful, tranquil beaches I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen many. With waters so clear and in places shallow enough I could walk to my own private sand bar to escape even the few who arrived on the boat with me. Australia has done an exceptional job of keeping these islands free from pollution and all the ramifications that occur when natural beauty is ravaged by allowance of human inhabitance. Very few of these islands allow for any type of dwelling or residence.

Back in Shoal Point I got ready to be picked up by my 62-year-old neighbor for my first night out, and what I consider a cringe-worthy event- karaoke. She called to warn me that she wanted to make all her coworkers laugh so she would be arriving in full costume, as a streetwalker. I couldn’t contain my laughter as she arrived in a bright red wig, fishnet stockings, bright blue eyeshadow, and sparkling pink lips. She swung her feather boa over her shoulders and she teetered to the door in sky-high platform sandals, a knee-length black dress with strands of pearls and bedazzled fake jewels draped around her neck. We pulled up across the street from an older building in the Mackay city center. On this warm summer evening I stepped out of the passenger side, in my casual, long, semi-fitted, navy t-shirt dress with thigh high slits on both sides. My long blonde hair was down, as it usually was, as I turned to face the building with the large windows, and I began walking across the road…

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