Swimming With Whale Sharks

Go! Go! Go! The man yells in a thick accent; it actually takes me a second to understand what he said. Then I quickly pull my mask over my eyes, put a death grip on my phone, and jump into the deep ocean blue. Immediately I begin clicking the shutter on my phone, hoping to catch the giant creatures swimming toward me. 

When I heard we would go swimming with whale sharks I couldn't decide if I was excited or scared. The term shark seems intimidating, why would want to go looking something that has the potential to kill us? But whale sharks are gentle creatures and they don't eat meat. There are only a few places in the world that you can actually swim with whale sharks and they are only around for a limited time. 

We packed up our truck with food, snorkel gear, drinks, blankets, and everything needed for a day at the beach. We then headed out of town driving for an hour on a paved road until we get to a bumpy, dirt road. If you didn't know the way, you would never know it led to anything. Another hour past military bases, camels, and goat herds and you reach one of the most serene and unique beaches. 

Instead of sand the shore is lined with large rocks, in the distance there are old run-down concrete buildings, now decorated with graffiti. Once we set up camp we wait for the man to pick us up with is boat. We left Ezra with two of our teammates who stayed behind on shore. They said he did great and only cried once he saw us returning. Finally, our little guy is starting to be comfortable around others!

Once we reached the area where the whale sharks hang out we then wait for the driver to tell us to jump. He does a fantastic job of pulling in front of the whale sharks so when you jump off the boat you land right in front of them! It was amazing! My flippers didn't fit so I wasn't able to swim to keep up with them, but I was still able to grab a few shots with my camera. Which by the way I highly recommend the Lifeproof case for your iPhone. It allows you to take it under water and take photos and videos. A dream come true!

After a few times in and out of the little boat you are so tired and ready to return to shore. We spent the rest of the day snorkeling, eating, talking, and of course getting way too much sun. 

I recently watched a video clip of a guy who traveled to every country in the world. He then would shout off a few things to do in each country, but when he came to our neck of the woods, he said he couldn't find anything to do. Well, mystery man, I feel sorry for you, because you spent all that money traveling all over the world and missed one of the most unique opportunities. I wish I could write him and tell him about all the things there are to do in our little country, whale sharks just one of the many!


Colorado: Part 1

One of the great things about working for our organization is their investment in training, and their ability to pick some of the best places in the U.S. to have these trainings! We spent all of June and most of July in Fort Collins, Colorado. There we had classes and seminars 5 days a week to prepare us for living abroad. We learned about conflict styles, leadership abilities, and language learning, all things that help us live better overseas. After the 5 weeks of training, we had an all-staff conference with everyone across the U.S. in our organization. Around 5,000 people came to Colorado State University as we spent time together, listened to wise speakers, and had open and honest conversations about issues that have plagued our communities. And of course, in between all of that, we spend time exploring Colorado. Below are a few of those photos:


How to Stay Healthy When Traveling Overseas

If you've ever taken an international trip outside of western culture then you've probably experienced the fun of the little critters that rumble in the belly. And when you are only in said country for so long there's nothing worse than having to miss out on a few days by spending them near a bathroom. Sadly, I've been there way to many times. If Sarah, Steve, Andrew, and Roberto are reading this all I have to say is . . . remember Guatemala? There's nothing worse than sticking your head out of a car window and letting it go... #classy 

That said, I've learned quite a few tricks over the years on how to keep yourself healthy and thriving when in a new food culture. Not only that I've also learned the hard way things NOT to do that will keep you healthy when you return. So let's get started!

1. DRINK LOTS OF FILTERED WATER - I'm going to assume that most of you aren't first-timers to traveling overseas and so it goes without saying that you never drink the tap water, including when you brush your teeth. But what I constantly see is when people finally take a break and eat at a restaurant, it seems everyone always orders Coke. Now I totally get it. It's made with real cane sugar and is void of that nasty high fructose corn syrup, but that doesn't mean it's all good. And while you've had a long day and totally deserve that Coke, I encourage you to drink two waters for every soda. There's nothing worse to your gut than tons of sugar. Not only that but if your system is fighting off bugs then sugar only weakens your immune system. So if you feel yourself starting to rumble, go against all instincts in reaching for that Sprite, and instead opt for sparkling water with a lime or lemon quarter or plain 'ol bottled water. Speaking of lemon, that brings me to my next point.

2. ADD LEMON TO YOUR WATER. In fact, don't just add lemon, but carry with you a 100% pure-grade essential oil (Young Living) and put in one drop of lemon oil in your water. Take note that lemon oil will eat through plastic so be sure to invest in a glass bottle before leaving. I love this one! Plus it comes in several different sizes and tops. I'm a straw gal myself. Why lemon you ask, well, it not only has antioxidant properties but it aids in cleaning out the nasty stuff, keeping your ph balanced, and making sure you rid your colon and liver of all the crap we put in it. Plus if you get a sore throat just add a drop to hot water along with local honey, it works wonders!

3. TAKE A DAILY PROBIOTIC. All day, every day I will preach against antibiotics, but if you have to take them then make sure you are also consuming a probiotic. And it's probably a good idea to just go ahead and take that little guy whether you have antibiotic or not. It's amazing at regulating gut health and will help keep you strong. If you are looking for a good probiotic that you don't have to refrigerate then I suggest Young Living's PB Assist.

4. ANTIBIOTIC ALTERNATIVES. Anytime I had a stomach ache I use to down an antibiotic. I knew it was a little critter and it had to die. I've had my fair share of parasites and giardia, so I got pretty good at recognizing the symptoms. The problem was I didn't replenish my gut flora with probiotics and I took way too many antibiotics. If you are in a place that has malaria and are prescribed medication, make sure you understand what it is. I was taking Doxycycline for malaria prevention as well as cippro when I felt icky and then a stronger antibiotic when I would show positive signs of parasites. But no one ever told me to be careful and use probiotics or that I had an alternative. And now I'm paying for it. I took so many antibiotics that I soon developed candida in the gut. This led to IBS, weight gain, food allergies, unbelievable sugar cravings, thyroid imbalance, tiredness, and more. Now I'm not saying that you will get this from one dose of antibiotics, but if you are a frequent traveler and find yourself taking them more than once in a year then you might want to be careful. Okay so what can you do instead.

I am a HUGE fan of essential oils. Here are a few of my favorites for traveling abroad:

- For tummy troubles like pain, loose bowels, vomiting, etc use Di-Gize oil. If you can't do pills then invest in the oil. While the oil is great, I've found more relief with the pill as it's going straight to the problem area. Another good option to help with pain is Peppermint Essential Oil. This stuff is also good for headaches, adding to tea or hot water, and a ton of other things.

- To kill parasites and other bugaboos use the ParaFree Softgels. This stuff is gold. Seriously. I used it for helping me get over my Candida and it worked better than the anti-fungals my doctor subscribed. (shhh, don't tell) That said, it's packed with essential oils like Oregano, Peppermint, Melaleuca (Tee Tree), Thyme, Lemongrass, and Lemon. And it's that Oregano that will kill all things! You take one to three pill for ten days. If you start out taking three pills you will notice some cramping, that's your body detoxing what's inside it. So I recommend building up. Start with one and see if you can handle more. 

- Now some of you may just be blessed with the opposite of loose bowels. I say blessed because I've never been on this end and things are always greener on the other side. ;) But if you are looking for something to help balance you out as well as detox some of the crap living inside you (crap as in not quite parasites, but still needs to go) then I highly recommend Detoxzyme

Okay those are my tips for keeping your gut in check while abroad. I'd love to hear what things you guys use to keep healthy? 

To purchase any of the Young Living items shop here & enter this number: 2301525

EDIT: So Lily from Balance Me Beautiful reached out to me to tell me about her great website full of amazing information on essential oils. If you are interested in oils I highly recommend reading her post:

It's a great intro into 9 popular oils. If you check it out, be sure and leave her some love!