Ten-Minute Turning Point
June 1993

“Ten-Minute Turning Point,” Ensign, June 1993, 32

Ten-Minute Turning Point

The job I took to earn money for my mission was in a big, dark, dingy factory on an assembly line. It was monotonous, mindless work—each of us was responsible for assembling six or seven parts of a computer board. I soon discovered that most of the day’s enjoyment came from talking to fellow workers. However, my first day on the job, the lady on my left warned me: “Watch out for Laura. She will tell you stories about her life-style that will curl your hair.”

Well, since I already had curly hair and was not interested in stories that would distract me from my mission preparation, I determined to politely inform Laura that I wasn’t interested in her stories.

It wasn’t long before Laura started talking to me and, true to form, she tried to tell me stories of her wild life. I told her I was getting ready to go on a mission and I really didn’t want to hear about it. Our relationship was off to a rocky start.

Laura mocked me for being religious and ridiculed me incessantly. I truly wanted to make friends with her, but was repeatedly offended by her remarks and found that I was afraid of confronting her.

One day, Laura got behind in her work and had to spend her ten-minute break getting caught up. I recognized an opportunity and offered to keep her company. She was shocked and touched by my actions. Although I couldn’t help her do her work, we talked pleasantly for the first time since I’d started the job. I finally gathered up enough courage to ask her not to ridicule me for being a Latter-day Saint since she knew nothing about it. I was surprised when she informed me that she knew plenty about it—she had been a member once.

That ten-minute conversation marked a turning point in our relationship, and Laura and I became close friends. I learned that she was a single mother with two young sons. She worked days on the assembly line and nights cleaning out horse stalls to make ends meet. She called my mission “the Big M” and was almost as excited as I was as the time drew near for me to leave. Together, we worked on breaking her smoking habit. She even attended church once in a while. And she was a ray of sunshine in that dingy factory; she could always make me laugh.

A week before I went into the Missionary Training Center, Laura came over to my house with a gaily wrapped package. “LeNore,” she said, “I know that you hate getting up in the mornings but that you really want to be a good missionary. Here’s my contribution to the cause.”

Inside the package was a wind-up, double-bell alarm clock. The clock served me well on my mission, and I still treasure it today. But I treasure even more the memories of a friend made because I took ten minutes to show I cared.

  • LeNore Pack Merritt serves as Merrie Miss teacher in the Rowland Heights Second Ward, Hacienda Heights California Stake.