(pictures are from the Open House brochure)
Last Tuesday night, Brett and I were fortunate to help clean the Bountiful LDS Temple, along with about 10 other members from our ward and 8 members from another ward. I had been looking forward to this night, because we had never had this opportunity before and I thought it would be wonderful to be in the temple under different-than-normal circumstances. I also knew how rewarding it felt when we'd helped clean the meetinghouses, so I had great expectations of how it would feel to help maintain the beauty and cleanliness of the House of the Lord.
The experience did not disappoint. The day of I must admit I was concerned that my weariness from the day might catch up with me (cleaning of the temple takes place after all patrons have left, starting approximately 9 p.m. We got home a few hours later). However, being in that spiritual place, and I think also with other churchmembers with whom we felt a comraderie, erased any tiring effects the day may have had on us. As a bonus, before cleaning started, we saw our good friends Jay R & Kathi Bangerter leaving the temple. We haven't spoken with them since we moved back to Utah, so it was a special treat to hug them and catch up for a quick minute.
The janitorial supervisor was a very nice man. After we'd all changed into white jumpsuits, we received close to 45 minutes of instruction. I know the temple gets a deep cleaning something like twice a year, and the supervisor mentioned that each night a different room gets the carpets and upholstery cleaned, but for the most part the cleaning is simple maintenance (vacuuming, dusting, refilling tissue boxes, emptying garbages, cleaning mirrors, and tidying bathrooms). In a way, it kind of made me feel better about my own housekeeping because there have been several times during a session, etc. when I've looked around and thought "My house could be this clean, could have this spirit if I just kept it this tidy and polished all the time." Now that I know what a huge team of people work every night (Tues-Fri), no wonder it looks so good. Of course, no place deserves more attention and devotion than the temple, right?
Brett and I were given the job to vacuum several rooms. The best room we were assigned was the baptismal font. I haven't done baptisms for the dead for so long that I'm ashamed to admit how many years it's been. I honestly don't think it's been since I was in Young Womans! Anyway, it was special to be that close to the font again, and be able to take the time to really look at it and admire it's ornate design and detail. We even got to speak to the supervisor about it for a bit and learned some interesting things, like how a member from Germany (that's right...from across the ocean) was brought in to hand paint the marble exterior. It was gorgeous and must have been painstaking.
Nothing is spared for the temple, that's for sure. Everything is top notch and the best. It was also neat to clean the women's locker room, which also meant some rooms attached to it where very sacred things take place. My girlfriend, Heather (hi, Heather!) was also cleaning that night and she and I stole a couple minutes in the Bride's Room reminiscing about our wedding days and admiring the delicate chandelier. "It's so sparkly," was all I could dumbly muster over and over again. But it was--all these prisms and rainbows and light, they just SPARKLED! Just as Heather was asking me what it must be like to clean it, an elderly temple worker came in and said, "It's time consuming." Good job, Grandma! Not one spec of dust or fingerprint lay on any of the cut crystals!
The temple is always quiet, of course, but to be there "after hours", when you truly have the place to yourself, was a treasured experience and also gave me greater appreciate for all the work that goes into creating the sacred atmosphere I get to enjoy when I visit. Even when the supervisor was explaining the process to us, his emotions got the best of him. It was obvious he had been blessed with some beloved and personal experiences while he's served in our Savior's house. He told us that in 2007 alone, over 4,000 volunteers came to make the Bountiful temple shine in over 11,000 hours of service. I was humbled to be a part of that service, and I hope I'll get the chance again sometime this year. If you ever have the opportunity to sign up as a volunteer to help clean, please do so--you won't regret it!
(And I have to give a shout out to my wonderful mother-in-law, Dixie, who was generous enough to come sit with my sleeping kids so we could take part in this special time! Thanks, Mom!)