Anna Waddoups posted a bunch of new photos and information on the Mission Blog about the arrival of the 21 new missionaries on Wednesday. Eleven of the missionaries didn’t have their luggage when they arrived in Rome and had to go back to the airport later that night to retrieve it, at least a 45-minute drive from the Mission Home. Craig was probably in the group with the lost luggage because she mentioned that their flight was delayed for two hours in Dallas, and that’s the flight that Craig was on. In the meantime, the missionaries were served their first authentic Italian meal at the villa. This first picture is Anna Waddoups standing next to the Italian sister who prepared the meal for the missionaries. She made them pasta with spaghetti sauce, green salad, bread, and they had gelato for dessert.
It’s a tradition for the missionaries to hang their coats on the stair railing when they are at the villa. Sister Waddoups said it was a good thing they have three floors worth of railing. This is the largest group of missionaries they have ever received at one time, and the groups will start to get smaller beginning with the next group, which will arrive in six weeks (including Craig’s friend, Ben Barrow, who is now at the MTC). The reason the groups are large right now is because the minimum age to serve a mission was changed from 19 to 18, which resulted in a sudden increase in the number of missionaries who were leaving on missions. The numbers will start to taper off over the next year.
After the missionaries got back from picking up their luggage at the airport, it was getting really late, and Sister Waddoups mentioned that they were all really tired. Poor Craig looks like he could barely stay awake. At this point, he had been in that suit for about 36 hours, and I’m sure he was exhausted.
The big moment came when President Waddoups started passing out the golden envelopes which told each missionary where in Italy he would begin serving and who his new companion would be. The map of Italy in the background had the areas where the missionaries serve marked on it.
Sister Waddoups said that at this point, everybody was wide awake because they were excited to find out where they were going. I can see Craig in the back. Yep, he’s wide awake now and has a big smile on his face.
The next morning some of the missionaries had to leave as early as 5:45 to catch a train to their new area. Sister Waddoups said the longest train rides were about 10 hours. The missionaries on those trains would have to be the ones serving in the most southern part of Italy.
Even though some of the missionaries didn’t have to leave early, they still got up to say goodbye to the friends they had grown close to at the MTC. I’m glad to see that Craig wasn’t one of the ones who had to leave early since he was so tired the night before.
Some of the missionaries didn’t have to leave until noon, so they took them on a walk up the street to a place called Acqua Sacra which means “sacred water.” Craig can be seen towards the back and is looking straight at the camera. Because he is in this group that didn’t leave until noon, he is most likely serving in an area that is closer to Rome or the middle part of Italy. But we won’t find out for sure until we hear from him on Wednesday.