It was such a blessing to travel with such a small group

Natalie Hansen
April 17, 2017

Tony!  Hi, and Happy Easter!

I have been thinking of you this past Holy Week, and wanting to send an e-mail your way, so needless to say, it was a pleasant surprise hearing from you!  Thank you SO much for that, but moreover, the planning of our trip to the Holy Land in January/February 2017!  It was such a blessing to travel with such a small group, and be able to see all that we did!  Do you have another itinerary that visits other areas in Israel???  I would love to go back (just said it again tonight to my family), but would like to further the experience to other, new places...  Do you have any trips going into Egypt or Jordon as well?  There is SO much to take in, and while I wouldn't mind a repeat, a traveler requires new spots too!

Since March, I have been sharing monthly articles of various locations visited in Israel with my church family through publication.  The feedback has been positive, and one person even said he'd like to go someday, though his wife is not a traveler...  

Hope you had a joyous Easter, and that some further adventures await in Israel and beyond!  

Let me know what else you can offer to continue the experience.  

Thanks,

The trip was a life-changing experience!

Gloria
April 17, 2017

Tony,

Thank you so much for the email card. Christ Has Risen! 

Tony, I would like to thank you for all the "special" ways you made the trip to Israel a life-changing experience. It was fabulous! Everyone from OKC had a marvelous time. I hope to return again and experience the spiritual beauty of the Holy Land. God bless.

I had a blessed Eater because of my trip to the Holy Land

Patsy Shields
May 2, 2017

Tony,

I'm a little late getting back to you. I had a blessed Eater because of my trip to the Holy Land. I want to thank you for such a wonderful trip. You and your family, friends and co-workers did such a marvelous job of putting the trip together. I was amazed with the historical background knowledge of Romy and the other guide gave us. It was so marvelous to hear from two sides, Jewish and Christian history as well as the Muslim. When you said you were putting your beast guide with Rom, you really delivered. Also thank you for opening our eyes to the Israeli, Palestinian, Syrian and Muslim plights. It has given me a much better understanding of the world situation. I will be praying for your people and others that are caught in this cultural situation.

I asked him to make a tape of tours, he was very shy and humble. Hopefully this is something you can supply with future tours to purchase, so that we can help remember the places and history we visited. Taking notes and short clips I recorded were not enough, my memory is too short lived to be able to record the story of my pictures.

Your bus drivers were very courteous and cooperative in attending to requests and needs of all on the bus riders; also very safe and good drivers. The guard was very courteous and made the majority of us feel very comfortable with his presence. 

I want to give you an five star rating. I am telling people I know about your trip and giving them information to book with you if they are considering taking an overseas trip.

I also want to thank you and Romy for including your family at the Family restaurant what a marvelous show. But most of all I want to thank you for sharing your family, your mother-in law, we made a wonderful connection and will forever be soul mates as well as your father-in-law.

With God's Continued Blessings

I just want to say thank you again, the pilgrimage was outstanding

Joan Menicucci
Parish Administrative Assistant
Ave Maria Catholic Parish

May 5, 2017

Hi Tony,

I just want to say thank you again, the pilgrimage was outstanding. Being able to stay at the St. Gabriel Hotel in Bethlehem and at the Pilgerhaus at the Sea of Galilee really made our time there special. The dinner at the Grotto was so much fun, we all enjoyed being there and laughing and just having a really good time.

I especially want to tell you how much we appreciated all that Rami, John and Shiraz did for us. Rami certainly has the full knowledge of the history of the Holy Land and gave us so much information, always there with an answer for any question asked. John is the best bus driver, he got us in and out of places that were unbelieveable. Shiraz was a joy, he was always with us taking pictures and he made sure to always watch over us so that we didn't let lost when were walking around in crowds he made all of us very comfortable because Rami had to be in the lead and he kept up the tail end. I can't remember the name of the man in Bethlehem he was around every night to make sure we were all happy.

Please give me regards to all, again thank you.

Your Tour Helped Re-energize My Faith
 
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We love to help families plan and tour the Holy Land together.  When you travel with your loved ones, you will not only share the trip of a lifetime, but each of you will grow in your faith as you walked in the places where Jesus walked. 

The AbouAssaly family recently planned the Holy Land Tour of a lifetime. While starting small in the initial planning stages, they were able to share their trip with 30 of their family and friends. 

After their return, their local paper wrote about their family, their trip and the impact their Good Shepherd Travel Tour had on their faith. 

As Elena AbouAssaly said, " I went and I walked in Jesus' footsteps. It's like a totally feeling than before we left."

 
By Far the most authentic and informative Holy Land Tour

Rev. Greg Hackett, First United Methodist Church | Corpus Christi, TX

On my fifth trip to the Holy Land, I was looking for a different perspective, or approach, than on previous trips. Of course, any trip to the Holy Land must include the “have-to-go” sites, but I was hoping to get a feel for the people and the culture of the land.

The Good Shepherd Travel Difference

With Good Shepherd Travel, I immediately discovered the right travel coordinator. I was made a part of the Good Shepherd family - from the arrangements in the United States all the way to Israel and throughout the tour. I was repeatedly approached by family members of Good Shepherd - Tony, Rami, Shabaz - earnestly seeking to make our trip the best one ever. And it certainly was!

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The Hospitality of the Holy Land

Hospitality, integrity, accuracy of the guide presentations, location choice and arrangements, taste of the culture and people of the land - all aspects of the trip were handled personally and with utmost care. Even when we had a travel glitch coming back (a cancelled flight in Frankfort) Good Shepherd worked with us to rebook flights and make it home together.

In my experience, this was by far the most authentic, informative Holy Land tour in which I have participated. I’ve never been disappointed by any Holy Land tour, but Good Shepherd Travel stood head and shoulders above in providing the total experience that I was seeking. I will certainly use Good Shepherd Travel for my next pilgrimage, and highly recommend them for you!

A Holy Land Tour Testimonial: Rev. Scott E. Schul

As I sat on the runway at the airport in New York, preparing for the first leg of a flight that would carry me to Istanbul, Turkey, and then Tel Aviv, Israel, I began questioning my decision to to go on a  Holy Lands tour. It suddenly seemed terribly selfish and self-indulgent, because I was nagged by three questions:

  1. Would I be safe;

  2. Would my family be OK while I was away

  3. What would I accomplish in Israel that I couldn’t achieve just as easily by reading a book or watching a movie?

Safety On My Holy Lands Tour

Well, the answers to the first two questions came quite quickly. I was exceptionally safe and secure in Israel and the West Bank. Likewise, my family was fine while I was away. But that third question was more complicated. What did I think I was going to accomplish through this trip?

Connecting To Jesus

The answer came to me as I thought about Jesus. That’s the sort of thing one tends to do in the Holy Lands. And as I did so, I realized that my relationship with Jesus was not nearly as complete as I wanted it to be.

The easiest way to explain this is through our creeds. Each Sunday in worship we make use of either the Apostle’s Creed or the Nicene Creed. Both of those ancient creeds, or statements of belief, represent the Church’s best answer to the most important question Jesus asked: “Who do you say that I am?” The Church’s response is that Jesus is 100% human and 100% God. It’s quite a puzzle, isn’t it? The “100% God” part comes easy for me. I have no difficulty thinking of Jesus as the Son of God, a divine miracle worker who can feed thousands with a few fish and loaves, heal the sick, and raise the dead.

Jesus is Fully Divine and Fully Human

But at times I’ve struggled to honor the fact that Jesus was also 100% human. I have to work to think of baby Jesus needing a diaper change, nursing from his mother, struggling through puberty, arguing with his parents (as all teenagers do), and learning a trade. But it’s that humanness which gives Jesus such richness and depth. It’s that humanness which enables Jesus to relate to our struggles. And it’s that humanness which loudly and profoundly testifies of Jesus’s love for us, because it proves there’s nothing he would not do or endure to be with us and among us.

Walking Where Jesus Walked

And so for my week in Israel, I set about trying to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. I was skeptical, because it seemed improbable, nearly 2,000 years later, that we would be able to have confidence in the accuracy of the Holy Land sites associated with him. Certainly there were some sites, like the Via Dolorosa or “Way of the Cross,” that, according to the archaeologists, simply aren’t accurate. But to my surprise and delight, the vast majority of the places we visited and venerated have been firmly and faithfully connected to Jesus since the time of the disciples.

Words cannot express my emotions at walking in the footsteps of Jesus. My knees buckled as I touched the spot where Jesus was born. I was awestruck as I stood on the hillside where he preached the Sermon on the Mount. It took my breath away to walk amidst the ruins of Capernaum and see the very house where Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law. I marveled as our boat glided across the same Sea of Galilee that was central to so much of Jesus’s ministry. I felt profound sadness as I stood in the lonely cell, a literal hole carved into rock, where Jesus was imprisoned the night before his crucifixion. And I was speechless as I touched the rock of Golgotha at the point where Jesus’s cross was affixed, and where he surrendered his life for ours.

Bringing My Faith To Life

Suddenly Jesus was no longer a two-dimensional drawing in a book. And he was no longer a God too distant, unapproachable, and big to understand me or care about me. At long last Jesus had flesh and bones. I could almost feel the coarse fabric of his robes, see his dusty, calloused feet, and hear that voice of his, soft enough to console a mourning mother, and loud enough to still a surging storm on the Sea of Galilee. I felt his love in a new way, and it enabled me to love him more completely as well.

It’s one thing to physically walk in the places Jesus walked. But it’s a very different thing to walk in the manner Jesus walked. That’s become clear to us over the last few weeks, as we’ve wrestled with his Sermon on the Mount. Today Jesus challenges us with these words: "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” What do you feel in your heart as you hear that?

Well, if you’re like me, you feel convicted. Broken. Guilty. The law does that to us. It tears away the mask of self-deception and exposes who we really are, warts and all. Rarely do we love our enemies or pray for those who persecute us. Our world is organized around drawing lines in the sand separating them from us. We almost instinctively separate into camps based on race, nationality, ideology, and of course religion. Hating our enemies comes as easy to us as breathing.

As children, we label those who are different, and target them for bullying and exclusion. We adults are even worse. For example, take social media, like Facebook. It held the promise of uniting us like never before. But instead, we’ve turned it into a bitter, invective filled instrument of identifying and destroying our enemies until they are shamed, silenced, blocked, and defriended.

And what about our political atmosphere? People across the ideological spectrum have conditioned us to hate our enemies because, well, it’s good politics, and makes for a winning strategy. Eventually, there comes a point when our shame at hating our enemies gives way to defensiveness, and so we try to water Jesus’s words down as unrealistic. After all, we tell ourselves, “What does he really know? Up in the clouds, surrounded by perfection, he has no concept of how dangerous and divided this world is. If he could walk in our shoes, he’d understand why we must hate our enemies!”

The Sermon on the Mount

But in response, Jesus patiently extends to us his very human hands. Even in his resurrected state, those hands still carry the scars where the nails penetrated his flesh. Our very human Savior knew what it was like to have enemies. He was rejected by his family, his community, the leaders of his faith, and even his closest followers. He knew what it was like to be hated. And I suspect he felt very tempted to return that hate.

But instead, drawing upon all of his human experience, he tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. He teaches this, not merely to convince us of our own brokenness, but because, as he says in verse 48, he wants us to “be perfect.” Frankly, that’s a lousy translation. A closer look at the underlying Greek reveals that Jesus isn’t holding us to some objective and unobtainable standard of divine flawlessness. Instead, his dream is for us to be whole.

True Wholeness

The wholeness of a rose is distinct from the wholeness of a daisy. Those flowers each achieve a very different vision of perfection simply by being that which God created them to be. The same is true for you. God blessed you with a distinct personality and mix of gifts, and God simply calls you to be the very best “you” that God created you to be. That’s God’s vision of joyful wholeness for all of us. Jesus knows that for this to happen, we cannot be burdened by hate. Hate is a selfinflicted wound that stunts our growth and blocks our vision of Jesus. And so today he offers us holy, healing medicine to help us be “fully human.” Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. I know that’s not easy. Jesus knows it’s not easy too. But for our own sake, he invites us to walk that sacred path. We can do it, because our Jesus – fully God and fully human - walks with us. 

This is a once in a lifetime life-changing trip!

When it comes to taking the trip of a lifetime, there's no better place to go than the Holy Land.  With years of experience, we help group leaders customize a trip their group is sure to love. For this group in particular, we partnered with Father Gus to create a life-changing experience of making the Scriptures come to life with each stop on the tour. 

An Unforgettable Tour

As you can see from Father Gus' testimony, their group experienced a once in a lifetime trip. Each of our Good Shepherd Travel Tours includes friendly and knowledgeable guides to educate and inspire your group along the way. Our partners in the Holy Land love what they do and it shows with the quality service they provide. 

Each tour stop will allow your group to experience the Scriptures in a new way as you learn about the places you've read about in the Bible.  From baptisms to churches to visiting the sites where Jesus actually walked, your group will grow in their faith and knowledge of the Scriptures. 

Are you ready to experience the power of visiting the Holy Land?  Good Shepherd is here to help you design a the trip of a lifetime - just like Father Gus. 

 

 

"This has been the most memorable trip I've been on in my 31 years!"
Mr. Joe Madrid Lewisville, Texas March 2015

Mr. Joe Madrid Lewisville, Texas March 2015

Hey Tony! I wanted to let you know that my family had an amazing time in Israel! Rami was an absolutely awesome guide, and we were lucky to have him. John and Shiraz were great too!

This has been the most memorable trip I've been on in my 31 years! I have nothing but great things to say when talking to others, and I highly recommend they visit the Holy Land.

Thank you again, and God Bless!!

Joe Madrid Jr.

"This has to be the most fun group that has ever visited the Holy Land"
Father Gabriel Ezeh Lyford, Texas June 2015

Father Gabriel Ezeh Lyford, Texas June 2015

Gabriel Ezeh commented on Goodshepherd Travel's post.

June 12 2015 at 9:44pm                     

Awesome experience all around. The tour guide, Ramy, is amazingly so personable and wittingly knowledgeable about the culture and context of Biblical events, The driver, John is hilarious, photographer reads my mind and takes pictures at the most memorable point at the Holy sites. This whole experience has been breathtaking. My group is fun. This has to be the most fun group that has ever visited the Holy Land. Everyone is genuinely interested in the welfare of the companion pilgrim. My hats off to Tony of Good Shepherd Travel. He's ALL HEART, puro corazon, as we say in my rancho, in Lyford, Texas.         

"We realized our dream, and fulfilled our spiritual drive."

Thank you for our breathtaking experience to the Holy Land.  We realized our dream, and fulfilled our spiritual drive.  We arrived Saturday, 6/20/2015 and after lunch we just crashed in bed till Sunday Morning.  We were exhausted.  Everything flowed smoothly throughout our journey home.  Then we were motor mouths when we visited family.  

Once again, thank you Rami for your guiding lectures, hospitality, and generosity.  Thank you Tony for the invite and the encouraging words when we were feeling dubious about our trip.

Thank you and May God Bless YOU!

                       

Marcos and Olivia Garcia (OMG)

Marcos and Olivia Garcia (OMG)

Marcos and Olivia Garcia (OMG)

"This Experience left profound footprints in my heart."
Ms. Maria Quilantan Mata Lyford, Texas June 2015

Ms. Maria Quilantan Mata Lyford, Texas June 2015

Tony, I personally want to extend my sincere and simple thank you from the bottom of my heart because you made this pilgrimage trip possible in waiting for my payments; otherwise, I would not have gone. We built great everlasting memories to enrich our sisterhood and the awesome opportunity to visit Holy Land where Jesus was born, lived, and died. I will definitely encourage more people to visit Holy Land and how safe it is to travel. Again thank you. GOD abundantly bless you, your family and your business

Thank you Tony for making our expedition cherished and treasured memories. This experience has left profound footprints in my heart forevermore. It is like an education certificate that nobody can ever yank from my heart. I'm reading and googling a lot lately. May God open the windows, doors and floodgates of Heaven for abundant blessings to you, your family, tour business and your awesome tour personnel? Sincerely and with God's love.....Mary.

Rafie's adopted son, Shiraz! Already missing Israel.   TONY, THIS MARY Q. MATA...JUST WANTED SHARE THIS PIC OF MY SISTER AND TO SHOW YOU HOW WE WERE TAKING OF DURING OUR PILGRIMAGE.

Rafie's adopted son, Shiraz! Already missing Israel.   TONY, THIS MARY Q. MATA...JUST WANTED SHARE THIS PIC OF MY SISTER AND TO SHOW YOU HOW WE WERE TAKING OF DURING OUR PILGRIMAGE.

"They will forever be in my heart!!"
Ms. Rafi Mercedes Texas June 2015

Ms. Rafi Mercedes Texas June 2015

Tony, I know we spoke when I was in Canada and I expressed to you how wonderful our trip was. Also how great your team of Rami, Shiraz, and John were to us. But, I really want to add that they will forever live in my heart. I can still hear their voices as they would call out to us or greet us on and off the bus. I hear Shiraz calling me Azizza and me yelling out Aziz across the parking lots. He gave me an arm to hold when I needed support and listened to me when I wanted to share a thought. Rami was so sweet to educate us with patience and always with a big genuine smile! He made sure we were safe and often helped me and Margaret when we needed to catch our breath or catch up speed with the others. John is such a fun guy and our dance instructor. He's a ball to have around. We love all those guys became a part of our family. My husband and children have been told how Shiraz holds a special place in my heart forever! He is truly my other son, whom I recently discovered. My sons are 46 and 35 years old and I didn't ask Shiraz his age but I feel he could be the middle son for me. I even called him Mijo (son). 

Here's a picture of my children. My daughter is 47, taller one is 35 and the other is 46. Please share it with the guys, especially Shiraz. They are so grateful to him for taking care of their Mom! Many thanks to you Tony for making these pilgrimages possible, for I know how much planning each trip takes. You really keep up with the welfare of your travelers. God bless you and your wonderful family a lot! Give you lovely wife and girls a big hug from me! 😊👍👏

Please tell all the guys a BIG THANK YOU from Ms Rafie!  May Our Lord bless them and protect them from harm always! 

"Your "extended" family took such good care of us."
Ms. Colleen Zimmer Denver, CO April 2015

Ms. Colleen Zimmer Denver, CO April 2015

Hi Tony,
It was wonderful!!!!!!!   I loved my time in the Holy Land--all of it!!!
Thank you again for everything.
Your "extended" family took such good care of us.   I know that Fr. Gus was impressed and said he had never had such attention on his prior trips.
My only regret is that we don't have "on tape" all the information that Rami (our fantastic guide) gave us each day about the sites and about the history.
Thank you again, Tony, for all your help and for registering me with the State Dept after all.  I will keep you and all those in Bethlehem in my prayers always.

Colleen Zimmer

Holy Land Tour Testimonio from Padre Pedro Portillo

Holy Land Tour Testimonio

PADRE PEDRO PORTILLO - OCT. 1, 201

Quiero expresar con poscas palabras la experiencia que mi grupo experimento en el viaje de Tierra Santa del 15 de Septiembre al 23 del mismo mes.

Fue un regalo de Dios conocer los lugares mas importante en donde Nuestro Senor Jesucristo visito en su vida en todo el pais que hoy se llama Israel. Todo el Cristiano que visita los distintos lugares de Tierra Santa, regresa con un sentimientos muy profundo de Cristo. La fe y la lectura de la Biblia es mas solida a Cerca de Jesucristo nuestro salvador y del compromiso de seguimeinto que realizo la Virgen Maria al aceptar ser madre de Jesus.

Los lugares Santos que se visita en Tierra Santa es muy seguro para todos los peregrinos. No se ve violencia de ninguna clases y las personas son muy amables con los turistas. los recidente tratan de proteger al visitante para que regrecen. Belen, Jesuzalen, El Mar de Galilea y muchos otros lugares santos viven del Turismo y se cree que es la mayor fuente de trabajo para los pobres que viven bendiento sus producto hechos a manos.

Las carreteras son muy modernas y accidente vehicolares nunca se ven. Los que viajan con pasaporte Americano son bien recividos por todos por la influencia economica que brinda los Estados Unidos a los governantes de Israel.
Los Hoteles son 5 estrellas y las comidas muy abundante. El guia y el motorista son profecionales y trata que el peregrino visite lo mas que pueda en su estadia en Tierra Santa.

La Agencia Good Shepherd Travel es la mas economica de todos las compania que envian peregrinos a Isreal. Su objetivo es mantener viva la fe Cristiana en Israel. Tambien de ayudar a los pocos familias Cristinas que sobre viven en Belen y Jesuzalen. Quiero decir que el proposito principal es de esta agencia es tambien crear una coneccion de fe y de amor con los Cristianos de Israel.

Quiero dar las Gracias a Tony y todoslos organizadores por ser posible esta experiencia inolvidable.

Atentamente.

Padre Pedro Portillo

Original Testimony on Facebook here.

"I had the most humbling experience in my lord's most Holy Land"

April 27
This is an enquiry email via http://tourtheholylands.com from: Laura:

Hola!!!

Hope this email finds you and your beautiful family in the best of health! I've been so busy here at work catching up with all my work that piled up in 2 weeks!! The traveling I have to do doesn't help!:) 

THANK YOU SO MUCH TONY (and staff, Rami, Shiraz, and John) for all you did!!!

I had the most humbling experience in my Lord's most Holy Land!! I've started typing my 2nd Bible (my journal) into my computer and have had to edit so much!!! First of all going through the notes and pictures I took, and then once I got into your web page I was able to add some more detail. Now I see the video yesterday, and now can go back and edit (add) more!!! I'm going to have the most beautiful story (2nd Bible) that one can have!!! And all THANKS to some wonderful people like you!!! 

As I continue to carry my Cross (that you gave us) I pray for Rami to get his Visa!!, for Shiraz to remain in remission, for John that God continue to "take the wheel", and for you my dear friend to continue to spread God's message through your tour "Goodshepherd Travel".

Tony, please keep me informed on any plans on the trip to Rome!!! Once again I offer any assistance that I may be. Also, if you need a witness to speak in behalf of your service "Goodshepherd Travel" I will do so for you!! May you and your tour family continue to spread God's word with your good hospitality and service to all!!!

My Sincere thanks again!!
In my Lord's Holy Name!!
Laura

"We will always and forever share our beautiful experiences"
Ms. Alma Odessa, Texas April 2014

Ms. Alma Odessa, Texas April 2014

It was an unforgettable experience, once in a lifetime journey ;) I want to thank Tony's wonderful team that made this possible for all of us!

We were treated like royalty by everyone there. All the places we visited were breath taking, specially the churches!

We met people on our trip that will forever be our friends and will remain in our thoughts and heart!! Our group in this trip will forever shared those very special moments and remember in a special way the journey and exciting moments we all encounter!!

We will always and for ever share our beautiful experiences, testimonies and emotional roller-coaster we went thru in the Holy Land and nothing and nobody can take that away from us!! thank you again Tony, John, Rami, Issa and Shiraz!! For those of you thinking about going to the HOLY LAND theres no other travel agent that will treat you like family like Goodshepherd Travel!!! I recommend it 100%. A special thankz to Issa for all his hard work, for getting us the best hotels, restaurants, guides and everything else....we love yall;)

Original Testimony on Facebook here