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Unexpected blessings on trip to Holy Land came from interactions at the back of the bus

By Troy Parker

For Mormon Times

Published: Saturday, May 28 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

As my wife and I set out for the Holy Land, we knew it would be a Spirit-filled, fun trip. But there were blessings and experiences we had not anticipated.

One of those blessings had little to do with where we were and more to do with the people with whom we shared the bus. It was a two-bus tour with more than 80 individuals. We got on the buses and visited one site after another, where we learned about each site's historical and scriptural significance.

Just like some church members do at LDS chapels on Sunday, we started sitting in about the same places each time we reboarded the bus and began to get to know those around us. (However, we did pull off a coup one day and sat in different seats just to mess with those on the front of the bus. Try that in church this Sunday.) I was amazed at how quickly we all became friends. It was as if we had known each other for years. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell accurately described this type of friendship, "our friendships are not friendships of initiation at all, but are, instead, friendships of resumption!”

I give thanks for those intersections that seem to happen from time to time in the kingdom of God. The group with which we spent the most time (The Back-Seaters) made the trip more meaningful and certainly more fun. I was inspired by these people and have deep respect for each of them. It was hard to say goodbye. One couple left a few days early, and as we said farewell, it was as if we were saying it to family. There were tears and expressions of love from all of us.

Again, Elder Maxwell describes it with beauty and eloquence:

“The same God that placed that star in a precise orbit millennia before it appeared over Bethlehem in celebration of the birth of the Babe has given at least equal attention to placement of each of us in precise human orbits so that we may, if we will, illuminate the landscape of our individual lives, so that our light may not only lead others but warm them as well."

So, to our new friends of “resumption” (you know who you are), thank you for a wonderful time and for your love. We look forward to “intersecting” again someday and remembering our time in the Holy Land.

Troy Parker is the executive director of "The Moroni Project," a nonprofit that conceives and executes initiatives that support LDS youth. He also blogs at troygparker.wordpress.com. Troy lives in Molalla, Ore., with his wife, Jill, and two sons.

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