Recently at our stake conference, President Charles Buck, a counselor in the Las Vegas Nevada, Temple Presidency, made a beautiful analogy of industrial clean-rooms with our spiritual lives. He explained that in an industrial context, a clean room is a place in which the air is highly filtered in order to keep out impurities.
For example, computer chip fabrication plants use clean rooms where the air is completely exchanged as much as seven times per minute. Workers go through an elaborate procedure to gown themselves in the so-called “bunny suits” which are required to keep them from contaminating the atmosphere inside the room. Clean rooms are also used in the manufacture of hard disks. In the biotech industry, clean rooms keep the environment free of infectious bacteria and viruses. A true clean room is typically a work area in which the air quality, temperature and humidity are also highly regulated in order to protect sensitive equipment from contamination.
The measure of the air quality of a clean room is described in Federal Standard 209. Clean rooms are rated as “Class 10,000,” where there exists no more than 10,000 particles larger than 0.5 microns in any given cubic foot of air; “Class 1000,” where there exists no more than 1000 particles; and “Class 100,” where there exists no more than 100 particles. Hard disk drive fabrication rooms are required to be produced in a Class 100 clean room. The special suits worn by workers do not give off any lint particles and also prevent human skin and hair particles from entering the room’s atmosphere. In English units one micron equals 1/25,400 inch. To put this in perspective, a human hair is about 75-100 microns in diameter. A particle of 0.5 micron (200 times smaller than the human hair) can cause major disasters in a clean room.
Lighting is characteristically bright in order to prevent mildew from forming behind equipment or in recessed corners, and even the workers in a clean room must be absolutely spotless. Surprisingly, industry executives often boast that their clean rooms are from 1,000 times to 10,000 times cleaner and more sanitary than any hospital operating room.
President Buck explained that a clean-room, in a spiritual context, would clearly include the Temple. He explained that when we enter the Temple, we place our street clothing in a locker and wear special white clothing. We also try to focus our thoughts on spiritual things. A temple recommend helps assure the purity of those entering the Lord’s house. A temple is truly a spiritually clean room or House of the Lord.
As explained by President Packer:
Upon entering the temple you exchange your street clothing for the white clothing of the temple. This change of clothing takes place in the locker room, where each individual is provided with a locker and dressing space that is completely private. In the temple the ideal of modesty is carefully maintained. As you put your clothing in the locker you leave your cares and concerns and distractions there with them. You step out of this private little dressing area dressed in white and you feel a oneness and a sense of equality, for all around you are similarly dressed. Ensign, 1995
Likewise, a full-time mission can certainly be referred to as another type of clean-room environment, in a spiritual sense. A missionary wears certain clothing, and tries to avoid exposure to unwholesome music, entertainment, movies and magazines, in order to stay morally, physically and mentally clean. A missionary attempts to avoid contamination from wicked or evil influences in order to be more receptive to the quiet promptings of the Holy Spirit. He tries to avoid hearing or speaking any unclean or profane language.
President Spencer W. Kimball said:
“The setting apart may be taken literally; it is a setting apart from sin, apart from the carnal; apart from everything which is crude, low, vicious, cheap, or vulgar; set apart from the world to a higher plane of thought and activity.” (Preach My Gospel, pg 4)
By avoiding all types of impure entertainment, influences and thoughts, missionaries are better able to focus on the Lord’s work and tune their spiritual receptors to receiving sacred messages and inspiration from Heaven.
Below is an excellent example of how a clean and pure missionary, trying his best to work and operate in a pure environment, can rely on the promptings of the Spirit.
One night on my mission, we were trying to figure out what to do. Our plans had fallen through for the evening. We had just finished a late dinner and we were on our way to check on a potential investigator. I was feeling a little bit down, mainly because our week had not been as “successful” numbers-wise as I would have liked it to be.
While reviewing our situation at about 8:30 p.m., I prayed with total sincerity for God to lead us to someone who needed us. We needed someone to teach, and I felt someone must be desirous of receiving the truth. I tried to leave my mind blank as my companion, Elder Staples, drove the car. As I prayed and pondered to know the will of the Lord, an image of an apartment complex (that we had tracked through about two months previously) came into my mind. I thought it was strange, but I prayed to know where the Lord wanted us to go when we arrived at the large complex of buildings. A specific building came to my mind, located on top of a particular hill. I asked Elder Staples if we could go to that particular building, and he quickly replied “Of course!” (I love Elder Staples). I knew we had to start heading home at 9 p.m., so we were worried about not having enough time to meet anyone.
We drove straight to the apartment complex and located the specific building I had seen in my mind, but then we had a hard time finding a place to park the car. I feared that we would miss the person we were supposed to find there. A quiet voice told me to calm down, and that everything was happening for a reason. There were a few ways to get to the building that I had seen in my mind, but I then felt impressed that we should take a shortcut across the back lawn to the back door of the building instead of using the front door.
It was now dark and almost 9 p.m. We had less than 5 minutes left to find someone to teach before we had to head home. On our way to the rear of the building, on the back lawn, we met a woman standing outside alone in the dark.
To make a long story short, her name is Elsa.
She met with sister missionaries in the area about five years ago, and still had the Book of Mormon they left with her. She had recently started reading it again after all these years. We asked her if we would be able to send over the sister missionaries again to visit with her and she replied, of course, she would love that! She had wondered how to reach them again. We went away feeling great. Our prayers had indeed been miraculously answered.
We immediately passed Elsa’s contact information over to the Spanish Sister Missionaries who also worked in our area. They went over and met with Elsa the next day and set her date for baptism after the first lesson! She was baptized several weeks after our first meeting.
When I saw her at church the next week, I was thrilled to see her there! She glowed with happiness. The sister missionaries told us that on the same day that we first found her standing outside, Elsa had actually been looking for the phone number of the sister missionaries that had taught her previously, but she couldn’t find it anywhere. She had no idea how to contact the missionaries again. Shortly afterwards, we found her standing outside in the backyard!
I LOVE THE HOLY GHOST!
It strengthened my faith and confidence in the Lord to know that He is conscious of each of us in our separate situations. He hears and answers prayers. Sometimes, as in this case, those prayers are answered immediately.
I loved my Spanish speaking mission in the U.S. I wish that there could be words enough to explain it, but words are inadequate! By the way, I am getting married in the temple next week!