Tag Archives: California missions

A few photos from our Mission adventure

I had planned to post some photos yesterday from our trip but I was in bed all day instead. I have come down with a case of shingles on my face which has set me back. I had to cancel all my Holy Week plans as my doctor said it is unwise to be around pregnant women, small children or elderly people or anyone with weak immune system. It’s late evening now and I’m feeling much better after taking seven doses of the antiviral medicine.


Mission Soledad

Mission Soledad

Mission Antonio de Padua

San Antonio de Padua


Mission San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo


Mission San Miguel

Mission San Miguel

A short spring break adventure

While helping the fourth graders with their California Mission projects I realized that Terry and I have only visited nine of the 21 missions. I checked the map to see where all the missions are located and discovered that four of the missions were close enough for us to visit in a couple of days travel.

Sunday we left after church and drove to San Luis Obispo to spend the night. We visited Mission San Luis Obispo on Monday morning in a fine drizzle. The precipitation made the courtyard garden even more lovely. The mission is in the heart of downtown which made it easy to walk to nearby shops and cafes. We had a snack in a nouveau coffee shop that served the most luscious baked goods. Terry said the coffee was really good, too.

Our next stop was a few miles north in the small village of San Miguel. The Mission San Miguel is still the parish church with a full agenda of events. We were quite impressed with the devotion of the town to maintain the mission properties. Around the corner from the mission is a converted gas station that makes delicious Mexican food. We arrived only minutes before they closed for the day and had tacos and a burrito that would hold us over until our dinner at a Subway in another small town farther north.

With most of the afternoon still ahead of us we decided to take a back road to the next town and found ourselves surrounded by miles and miles of vineyards. I had no idea there were so many vineyards in this part of the state. Many of those who live in the far back hills of the central coast are Native Americans, the same people who the priests and friars came to convert back in the late 1700s when the missions were being established.

Our second night’s stop was not nearly as nice as the hotel where we stayed in San Luis Obispo. I had used points for Sunday night’s stay in an upscale hotel,but Monday’s night motel was on my own dime so I found a 2-star AAA place. We used to do this when we were young, travel from town to town, staying in a different motel each night. We could handle anything for just one night. We may not be as flexible now in our “old age.”

The room was okay, but with just a mishmash of furnishings. Certainly no feng shui had been considered when decorating. Although the rooms were labeled no smoking, the doors at each end of the hallway were left open and had areas for smokers so the smoke filtered down the hallway and into the room. Half of the motel was taken up with a construction crew who left at 5:30 in the morning, starting their trucks and pickups that were parked underneath our window. You get what you pay for is all I could keep thinking.

Our third mission stop was miles out in the country, sitting right in the middle of a field of kale. The workers were hoeing the long rows as we pulled into the parking lot, the only car there. Mission Soledad has been completely rebuilt as it was abandoned for much of the 1800s and allowed to disintegrate. It is very lovely to sit on the porch, with harp music playing, and look out on the green hills and fields. One could almost feel like it was 1802 again. The chapel is used once a month for church services but they are planning to have Easter sunrise service there next Sunday. They also host a luncheon once a month that is well attended. All of the missions have celebrations in the spring and fall to celebrate the work of faith that continues and to raise funds and awareness of the missions.


This is the view from the porch at Soledad. Harp music was playing, it was warm and the sun was shining on the bench where I was sitting. It was heavenly.12674310_10204569512997540_1129377645_n

Our final stop was entirely off the beaten path. Mission San Antonio de Padua sits between Hwy 101 and Hwy 1 but to get there one must drive 26 miles on a winding road and onto a US Army base, Fort Hunter Liggett. This mission is in the process of being reconstructed so there was not much to see except the chapel and the courtyard. The gift shop was the least appealing of all the shops we visited. It was a hodgepodge of what I would call brick-a-brack. Very little in the way of actual mission souvenirs. Nothing was well displayed, either. I’m sure the reconstruction work had a lot to do with the disarray. We would definitely like to return when the work is completed which they have planned for sometime in 2017. San Antonio de Padua does give one a sense of what the mission must have felt like in the 1800s as it is so remote and completely detached from civilization.


As usual, the week flew

…and I slept soundly, tired after these busy days when I:

Read this book to four first grade classes

Ate this school lunch, and yes, it’s upside down. That was sort of the way the day was going.


Worked with the fourth graders, some of whom have finished their mission, two weeks ahead of schedule



I’m making turkey pot pie soup for the Lent Soup Lunch at church on Sunday so I went to Whole Foods this morning to buy the ingredients.  This was my view in the parking lot.

Our city is covered in these beautiful blooms right now. It’s such a wonderful season.

No substitute #2

The Ladies Who Lunch turned into The Ladies on a Mission this week. We met for lunch on Tuesday, and these gals loaded my car with an abundance of mission-building supplies. I asked our server to take a picture of the group to share with the 4th graders to show them who had gotten them all of the supplies.


From the left: Cathy, Jeri, Gladys, Diane, Delaine, Janet


One of the Ladies is missing from this photo, but she has promised to be there when they  come out to Columbia to view the finished missions and meet the students.

I delivered everything on Wednesday and handed out almost all of the supplies that day. After the final bell rain, and the 4th graders headed out, a group of 6th graders showed up at the door and wanted to know what I was doing. These kids knew me from the craft days I’ve done for the after school program. They wanted to know if I would be coming on Friday for crafts. No, I did that last week, and now I’m giving all my attention to the mission projects.

They talked about their missions that they made two years ago. They wanted to know why I hadn’t brought supplies to them. I wasn’t even around two years ago. This was the first time I had even thought of the need for such a project. Then they asked if I could be their substitute. NO.

That is one position I now know I cannot do. I have never wanted to be a substitute teacher even though I have been asked by numerous teachers (including the four first grade teachers whose classes I read to each week) to do them a favor and sub for them. After the last three days of intense work with kids, only four hours each day, I know for sure that I do not have the energy or wherewithal to do that work for an entire day. Sure the extra money would be nice. The district is paying $135 a day for a credentialed sub. But not that nice. It’s too much responsibility and too much hard work. I like being a volunteer.

Mission building

Today I delivered a carload of supplies that my friends had collected for the fourth graders to build the California missions.

The school’s janitors were so kind and unloaded my car, delivered a cartful of supplies to the classroom and then unloaded them. Here is what it looked like BEFORE the students arrived:

Here is the same area AFTER the students got what they needed to get started:

I need to get green paint tomorrow and deliver before I go to work with the first graders. That is one thing I didn’t know the kids needed. Many got right to work today:


I was exhausted by the time I left at 3:00.

More about California missions

schmidleysscribblins left a comment on my last post that her grandson, who lives in California, just finished his mission project, doing his on the Mission San Juan Bautista in Hollister, the mission where the Hitchcock movie, Vertigo, was partially filmed. Here is a drawing of that mission:


I have made a pinterest board of all 21 missions so that it will be easy to look at the basic form of each mission when helping the students. The teacher and after school coordinator and I have worked out a day for the students to stay after to work on their projects.

It’s been a busy week and next week looks to be more of the same. I’ve decided to do very little this weekend so as to regain my enthusiasm and energy that the next week will require. I am greeting at church tomorrow, but that won’t take too much effort. Today I’m devoting to laundry.

On a mission

Literally…California history is first studied in 4th grade. It’s a state requirement. If you should move to California as an adult, and you want to be a teacher in the state, you will be required to take a class on California history. We think it’s that important around here.

Part of the state’s history is the missions. All 21 of them. Every 4th grader in the state is to study about the mission system and either write a report after visiting a mission (what my daughter did), or make a model of the one of the 21 missions. Some schools are fortunate enough to have field trips to the missions. The closest one to Fresno is San Juan Bautista, about 2 hours away. The inner city schools, like where I am chaplain, don’t have that luxury. Their experience with the missions comes from books and model-making.

Models of the missions requires a long list of supplies. Supplies that most inner city 4th graders cannot acquire on their own. Their parents are unable to get the supplies due to time, transportation, money. There are no craft stores, or hardware stores, or even Targets in the poor side of town. My friends, the retired teachers, are banding together to provide the supplies to one of the 4th grade classes at Columbia where I am school chaplain.

I thought the teacher was going to cry when I first approached him with the idea. Then I showed up at his classroom to get a list of the supplies. He introduced me to the class and had me tell my story as to why I am at Columbia. Some of these students (32 4th graders crammed into a small portable classroom) are the ones I’ve seen in the office for misbehaving in class. I’d misbehave, too, to get out that cramped room where most of the work is rote and worksheet-based. Some of them come to my after school craft days (which I am doing later this afternoon). Those students had seen me before. Most, however, did not know me. When I finally told them that we were going to provide the supplies for their missions, they cheered.

Suddenly the classroom was frenetic. Students were pulling their mission books out of their desk, telling me the mission they were making. They started shouting lists of materials they needed. Students were turning to pictures of missions in their books and putting them in front of me. I got a piece of paper and started writing.

We made plans for me to return next week with the supplies and then we would make a plan for checkpoints and see what else might be needed. I told them about the group of retired school teachers who want to help them. They asked if we could come see their missions when they are finished. Sure we can! The excitement in the room was thick. As I walked out the door, with the promise to be back next week, they applauded.