Musicals and operas generally start with an overture. The lights start to go down, but before the curtain opens, the orchestra plays the overture. It’s usually an instrumental summary of everything which is to come, with bits and pieces of all the songs you’ll hear strung together. It gives patrons a little extra time to find their seats and the actors a little more time to get ready. I call this trip “Our Opera Overture” because we are coming to Opera, Italy, a suburb of Milan, for ten days to get ready for our mission. So far, you wouldn’t call our trip a comic or light opera. Things look pretty dark right now.

Our Delta flight from SLC to Paris left an hour late. That wasn’t too bad, because we picked up 30 minutes on the way and easily made our connection with Air France to Milan. The Air France flight left 30 minutes late, which gave us hope that our luggage would make it. We brought along 2 huge bags and a big bag, with stuff like bedding and towels and lots of clothes. Unfortunately, only one of our big bags made it, and the one that made it didn’t have any of our clothes. As we go to sleep, we’re hoping we’ll have a change of clothes to wear to church tomorrow. Air France gave us a couple of t-shirts and a few bath items, and that’s pretty much all we have to wear tomorrow if the bags don’t come.

Our mood wasn’t all that great along the way. Even though we’ll be home in 9 days, Marieta is already horrible homesick. Her dad used to say, “homesickness is the worst sickness,” and right now Marieta believes he is right. From time to time on the flights she would cry and then start really sobbing. At one point the flight attendant wondered if I had done something to hurt her. I explained as best I could our desire to do what we think in our hearts is right and how at the same time our heartstrings are tugging us home.

After leaving the airport without our luggage, it didn’t help that the day was dreary. The taxi driver told us Milan has had 30 days without any sunshine. Everything looks grey and lifeless. We made the trip to our hotel in less than an hour, but our driver told us on a normal day it would take two hours. The Christmas holiday in Italy goes until January 6, so not many cars were on the road. The fare was 150 euros, which is pretty outrageous. We will have to figure out mass transit for sure.

Our hotel is sad and dreary as well. They advertise themselves as having 4 stars, but none of them are shining. We did get free Internet access for our 8 nights here. The problem is that no one has been able to use the Internet since the serviceperson fixed it on December 24. He let me try their computer in the lobby just to prove that the Internet was working (I couldn’t connect with my computer, even though I tried two different cables and a number of settings). With their computer running, I opened the browser. It took only 3 minutes to bring up the Google search page. So, the free Internet is a good news, bad news type of thing.

As far as I can tell, we are the only guests in the hotel. It’s clean and we have a little kitchenette in the room, but it’s not very inviting. The restaurant is closed until the 7th. I’m not sure if that is a bad thing. Of course, I paid in advance after learning about the free Internet access. It is very quiet here.

President Dunaway picked us up for dinner a little after 6:00 p.m., and that part of the day was very nice. Ruth fixed dinner, and it was authentic Italian and very good. We talked about what we would be doing and what needed doing. Just barely did Marieta not blurt out, “I want to go home.”

So, the first little snippet of our overture is rather somber. If we could wish ourselves home in a moment, we would be there now.