"And now it came to pass that as Alma was journeying from the land of Gideon southward, away to the land of Manti, behold, to his astonishment, he met with the sons of Mosiah journeying towards the land of Zarahemla. Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God." Alma 17:1-2
It's been a little over 20 years since I served a 2 year LDS mission in Porto Alegre, Brazil. It wasn't always easy but it was one of the greatest experiences in my life, and I look forward to my sons serving missions. It strengthened my own conviction and testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I continue to serve faithfully in the church wherever I'm asked.
I made a lot of friends but a couple American missionaries are the only ones I still have occasional contact with (maybe I need to sign up on Facebook and track some people down?). So I was especially surprised yesterday to run into another missionary from my mission. I'm currently serving on the Stake High Council and was assigned to speak in the Chatsworth Ward. I had greeted a few people I knew before the meeting and then turned around to a guy who looked vaguely familiar. When he said his name I knew exactly how Alma felt, both the "astonishment" and the "joy!" Elder Quist and I weren't companions, and I didn't even know him especially well, but it was so wonderful to see him. He and his beautiful wife were there picking up their son who had just finished his mission, and this ward was one of the areas where he'd served.
The surprise of running into someone I served with during such a great time in my life and in an unexpected place really made my day, but the circumstances made it even nicer. Especially because we were still "brethren in the Lord."