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Vai's View: Never a Dull moment general conference weekend brings reunion of missionaries, convert

Published: Friday, April 6 2012 1:14 p.m. MDT

Sensing that he was mocking us, I responded in the tone of a cocky college athlete: "Yeah? These happen to be titles that allow us to carry the greatest message on earth. And if you had any sense, you'd have us to your home so we can tell you about it." My comment was curt and I expected it to end with our purchase and we'd be on our way to play tennis. Instead, Bob responded, "I'm free Thursday evening." My companion and I taught two lessons at the Dull home before Bob suggested we start meeting at his office at the store because his wife, Jackie, who refused to sit in on the lessons, didn't approve. So with permission from our mission president to leave our apartment earlier than our 9:30 a.m. departure, we met at 6:30 a.m. two or three times a week at the sporting goods store. Elder Pray arrived just as we started those early morning discussions, teaching him with me until Bob was baptized on Sunday evening, March 27, 1983.

Three decades later, Bob Dull is now a mechanical engineer for a Utah-based company called Maetec and is the high priest group leader of the Hidden Creek Ward in the Sandy Utah West Stake. Jackie Dull teaches the Sunbeams in their ward.

Bob and I told his conversion story last year in the MTC, without Daniel Pray. Bob and I have stayed in touch and remained close friends over the years, and he has done the same with Daniel Pray. But Daniel and I haven't seen each other since our missions, until last Sunday. Fittingly, it was our convert Bob Dull who brought us together. Even more special that our reunion would happen in the MTC.

As 20-year-olds, we sometimes clashed because we were strong-willed and both a little cocky. At 49, with some maturity, gray, a few more pounds, our children grown and all of my sons returned from missions and Daniel's only son, Grant, currently serving in Brazil, we simply hugged and held each other close, then kissed each other's cheeks through our tears of joy. Our wives, Keala and Jacqulyn, met and became fast friends, as did our children. Our families sat together as we told our story, along with Bob, to the missionaries in the MTC.

The elders and sisters seemed moved listening to our experiences and what lay in store for them in the coming 18-24 months and for the rest of their lives.

I learned that Daniel Pray's life has been as adventurous as mine, perhaps even more so.

When he returned from South Dakota, he enrolled in college intending to study electrical engineering. He took a few computer courses and worked part time for an electrical engineer in his ward to help pay expenses but more importantly to gain some experience in his chosen field.

His boss submitted a bid for and won a contract to install all the lights — exterior and interior — for a widow in Fairbanks, Calif., named Joan Kroc and asked Daniel to assist in the project. The job was extensive. It turned out that Joan Kroc was the widow of Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald's. Her estate was a compound of four homes that were all interconnected. All of the exterior and interior lights in her compound — tens of thousands of them — were to be wired to a central computer keypad, which Mrs. Kroc could control from the main residence at the touch of her finger. Even now, this is cutting edge-George Jetson-type stuff, but in the early '80s, this was futuristic.

The company providing the lighting and computers was called Vantage Controls, which happened to be based in Orem. This was all so new, even Vantage didn't really have anyone on staff who had ever installed this lighting system connected to a computer pad. They shipped the lights and four computers that were somehow to be interconnected and controlled from a single key pad to the Krocs' home, and it was young Daniel Pray who figured out how it all worked.

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