The Surprise

For our fortieth-eight wedding anniversary we planned to have a nice dinner alone at a restaurant. Instead God sent us to St. Maarten.

Dan’s sister Precious was celebrating her birthday. Her daughter booked a Caribbean vacation for her and her younger sister Jewel. The location was unknown to both until a few days before departure. All they knew is a tropical location was in their future. The dates booked were for November 8 until 12. So we thought.

When we saw November 8th was one of the dates we wanted to go. That is our anniversary date. Forty-eight years ago we were married in Kent, Ohio by Judge Kent. Being in the Caribbean was a much better idea then dinner at a local restaurant. So we booked our trip for November 8 to 12, 2022 in the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa. This had to be a God thing because Dan’s sisters’ actual booking was for November 8 to 11th with an early arrival in Cleveland on the 12th. If we had known that we would have booked for a departure on the 11th. However, God wanted us to stay an extra day alone sucking up the Vitamin D temperatures.

God also changed the ladies flights. Their first flight was delayed by two and a half hours. The airline decided to send them to Miami and put them in a hotel for the first night then fly them to St. Maarten the next day. Dan’s sisters were thrilled to get another location included in their itinerary. This allowed Dan and I to be alone in St. Maarten over several meals in high eighty temperatures that felt like mid nineties for our anniversary. We love it hot!

This trip was full of surprises. The first one is neither of Dan’s sisters knew we were coming. Only their daughters knew. We didn’t tell anyone in our family where we were going. They found out through Facebook posts in a private album. That album was opened later for all friends to see after we returned home.

The second surprise was for Dan and I. We had no idea the resort we were staying in was on the Maho Beach which is famous for low flying planes that people observe and take pictures of. Dan knew the minute we were landing. He asked himself, is this the place? When we checked in, he was confirmed it was. I was clueless until after we arrived at our resort. I just thought, wow, we can see into the surrounding resorts. The runway was short; we could feel the plane do a side skid while stopping. I love love watching planes land and take off. Once we knew where we were we spent that first day on the beach taking still shots and videos of planes landing and taking off. We used to do this at our home airport until 9-11 changed that accessibility.

On the day of the sisters arrival we positioned ourselves on the beach and made videos of their plane landing. Then we sat in the lobby with two cameras filming their entrance. We chuckled as we watched them exit the taxi, hotel greeting, luggage being taken by the bell hop, and wait in line. As their line approached eye shot of us, Jewel pointed and Precious screamed with glee. It was the best surprise ever. For two days Precious repeatedly said, “This is the best birthday ever!”

The resort was fantastic! It was located on the Maho Beach. We had an ocean and pool view room. This all-inclusive gave us wonderful dining at tropical grills, Italian, pizzeria, buffet, Asian, sports bar, and coffee shop. There was even late night snack opportunities. We were always too full for that. There was a large pool with bridge, swim-up bar, and water slides. Children enjoyed another smaller pool with slides. A playground was available for land activities. Of course there was the beach where we could be dashed by the waves and swim further out with snorkel. The added feature was watching planes come and go.

Upon arrival luggage is pulled to the side while we checked it. Everyone receives a cool refreshing towel and a tall glass of champagne. We arrived on an empty stomach and was instantly mellowed by the clear golden drink. We were then escorted by our bell hop to our room. Our room keys were included on our all-inclusive purple-stringed bracelet. We loved knowing where our key was at all times.

We are still thanking the Lord for this surprise flight to St. Maarten.


Juel A. Fitzgerald has a degree in English and is a Toastmaster trained public speaker, loves to travel, walk long distances with friends, and is a driving instructor for teens. She writes in four blogs and is the author of “Lives of a Gem! God’s Treasured Possession”, “Bible Trek: Reading the Bible in Thirteen Weeks”, and “The Twelve: Fishers of Men”.

These are her four blogs:


©2022 Juel A. Fitzgerald.  You may send this entire article however you chose with this copyright line.  Feel free to read any articles at, leave messages or subscribe to receive future postings in your e-mail.


3 thoughts on “The Surprise

  1. san77gar November 20, 2022 / 11:43 am

    It was an amazing gift for you and Dan. God does great things! I was in St. Maarten some years ago with my daughter, Alison. It was a beautiful week on a beautiful island. We went to the opposite site of the island which had a (nude) beach. 🤦‍♀️. But it was nice to circle the island.

    I’m sure you are still refreshed and marveling over God’s goodness!
    🙏🏻 Sandy

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Juel A. Fitzgerald November 20, 2022 / 12:18 pm

      Awesome! We were one that nude beach on a prior cruise. That is what we love about cruising. We get to taste a little bit of each location and if that taste is good we can come back for a longer stay.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s