Today’s blog post is from our friends, Pete and Linda McCarthy of Green Bay, Wisconsin whom we had the pleasure of assisting during their family tour to Israel! Many people don’t think of what an amazing experience this can be for a family to share and the McCarthy’s had such a great experience, they all wrote their thoughts on the trip, even six-year-old Ben!
Here we are, Oma and Opa with our children and grandchildren, ages from 75 to 6, on The McCarthy Family Holy Land Tour with our very own bus!
Susan Eshed and her staff of Immanuel Tours completely arranged our itinerary including our own personal choices of cities and sites. They gave us invaluable advice on how much we could cram into our 11 days in Israel. The itinerary was flexible enough so we could make changes on the fly. Being on a private tour, we were not restricted to the rigid schedule of the standard tour and could cut a site visit short to get back to the hotel for a much needed refreshing swim or nap.
Susan alleviated any fears we may have had about safety, reminding us that their military is constantly monitoring any trouble areas and doesn’t allow tourists into areas of conflict.
Yoav and Raymond met us at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, guided us through customs, and delivered us to the bus to meet Yoni Simmons, the “Best Guide in the Middle East, and David, the “Best Driver in the Middle East”! Yoni was perfect for our family’s age range, telling us both biblical and recent history of the sites and the country, including scripture references, the Jewish tradition, the background of the conflicts, and much much humor. David could thread his full-size tour bus through the eye of a needle!
We enjoyed the best of accommodations, staying in 5-star hotels with beautiful facilities and phenomenal buffets in the mornings and evenings.
Lunch was on our own, which was such fun sampling the various cuisines of Israel, from the Druze buffet on the Golan Heights to a Kosher McDonalds on Ben Yahuda Street in Jerusalem.
Israel is a small country with millennia of history. So many locations have several stories ranging from ancient times to the present. Yoni is a storyteller and a captivating teacher of how events occurred in the Bible and in recent times. It was very interesting how he explained how the authenticity of a site is validated. Yoni took care of every detail at each site, including our tickets, and walked us right in without waiting in lines.
We had our very own boat on the Sea of Galilee, worshipping on the waters our Lord walked, and even dancing to “Hava Nageela”.
Besides the vivid Bible stories, our children and grandchildren loved the camel rides and Hezekiah’s Tunnel. Our 6-year old grandson remained interested throughout, and ran and climbed and asked questions, keeping up with everyone.
Oma cried to think that a prayer and an impossible dream that she had six years ago came true. As Opa says, “The Bible was in black and white. The Holy Land brought it alive in full living color.” We pray that every believer will consider a
family tour to Israel to leave a legacy for the next generation.
“SHA’ALU SHALOM YERUSHALA’IM ” “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem”
(Below are comments from our children and grandchildren)
John and Natalie, Oconomowoc WI:
The family trip to Israel was fantastic. Yoni made the trip memorable, insightful and fun. Abraham’s gate, the Dead Sea scrolls, Golgotha, the Garden Tomb, Jerusalem, Shiloh, the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea to name a few, were memorable. This was a faith-shaping trip that adds another dimension to our faith as we read scripture. We were so thankful to be able to take such a meaningful trip as a family. We weren’t sure how our kids (ages 18, 16, 14 and 14) were going to react to an educational trip in a foreign country. They all loved it and were surprised to see scripture came alive. We’ve had the opportunity to go to church since returning, and as a result we have a visual of what actually took place. Last week we were reading Luke 23:33 where they came to the place called The Skull. We got to see The Skull. Absolutely amazing.
Thank you for providing such a well planned tour with a fabulous tour guide and bus driver. We enjoyed getting to know them.
Calvin, age 18:
I was not expecting the trip to go so smoothly and be so fun! Our tour guide Yoni and bus driver David were awesome and made the experience a lot more fun. I loved seeing all the biblical sites and placing a name with an image.
Madelyn, age 16:
I was really unsure about going to Israel but when we got there with or whole family, Yoni our tour guide was really helpful and made the trip amazing
Asher, age 14:
The tour was so much better then I expected and with the awesome tour guide wegot (Yoni) it made it so much more enjoyable and informative.
Ethan, age 14:
Really fun seeing all the biblical sites. Our tour guide Yoni was a really funny tour guide and helped me learn more about the past.
Shawn and Kim, Minneapolis MN:
With nervous excitement we embarked on a trip to Israel with our 6, 12 and 14 year old kids. The trip delivered adventure, beauty and of course history both modern and ancient. The memories have changed the way we comprehend the bible. We have visual references to biblical events that make the Bible come to life each and every time we read, listen and learn. Thank you for planning a seamless, kid friendly, family adventure.
Ben, age 6:
It was fun. I liked it. I was happy I was in Jerusalem.
Daniel and Sarah, Denver CO:
Sarah and I left for our Holy Land tour with enthusiasm and curiosity and landed in Tel Aviv excited yet unsure of what was ahead. We researched in advance the sites we were to visit and the route we’d take, but that did little to prepare us for the journey to come. Our guide, Yoni, and driver, David, met us eagerly at the airport and for the next ten days, we were introduced to the rich biblical and historical wonders of Israel. From the beauty of Caesarea, through the depths of
the Old City, to the heights of Masada, Yoni walked us through the significance of each site with deep understanding and reverence. He approached each day with grace and humor and patience, all while David expertly piloted through tight
urban streets and windy mountain roads. We can’t imagine having a better teamto host our family’s visit. The opportunity to explore and experience the Holy Land is one we will always appreciate and cherish, and we will recommend it to our friends every chance we get.