These are stories we wrote to try to imagine what it would be like to be a padre on a mission
A Padre's Perspective
Hello!!! I am a Spanish padre named Fray Asera. I came to New Spain on a Spanish Galleon. The waves tossed and turned us as we sailed into the harbor of Sevilla. After I spent a few days there I took off toward Mexico City. There I learned how to teach Indians my religion. After I became an expert at all this my dream came true! I was going to be a padre at Mission San Francisco de Solano!!! I am a young padre but still very smart. I am bald and that makes my head as shiny as a finished clay pot. I have A short, curly, black mustache and really like teaching the kind Indians.
Every day is almost exactly the same at a mission. I wake up by the loud bell that was a gift from the Russians at Fort Ross.
"Good morning," I say to all the people cheerfully.
"Good morning," they reply sleepily.
We go to the church to say our prayers. Our church is a large adobe structure with a big cross in back of the wooden alter. There are many rows of aisles for people to sit in. Animal footprints on the floor, because they stepped on the adobe bricks when they were drying.
"Good morning everyone," I say loudly.
"Good morning father," they answer.
I start reading from a big book called a bible. When I look up I see many blank Indian faces staring at me. I sigh. It takes lots of patience to teach Indians.
"God is the creator of life," I say to them.
"OHHHHHHHHH," they all say.
After church we all eat breakfast. As always we have atole. Atole is a white and lumpy wheat mush that is very delicious to me, but some Indians think it tastes so bad that they won't eat it unless they are starving. After everyone is finished with their atole we go to our jobs. I usually teach Indians about God. Today that is exactly what I am doing. We go over to the peaceful garden with beautiful flowers, tiled benches, and olive trees. There I teach them about Jesus Christ. Indians get very confused when I talk about God to them, so I have to talk very slowly.
"Jesus was born by Mary in Bethlehem," I say to them very slowly.
"Who's Mary," I hear them whisper to each other.
"What's Bethlehem," I also hear them whisper.
Then a bell rings. It is time for lunch!
For lunch we have pozole. Pozole is a thick stew with meat and vegetables in it. After lunch is my favorite part of the day. I rest under a large pepper tree with long meandering branches spreading all over the place to make plenty of shade. This is where I take my siesta. I thought about the fiesta we were having in a couple of days. I couldn't wait to eat all that delicious food and see all that fancy clothing and dance to all that marvelous singing. We are going to stay up late and play games. At the thought of all this I fell asleep. After my siesta I taught some Indians how to make adobe bricks.
"First you pound this clay with your hands or feet," I tell them hopefully.
"All right," the Indians say nervously.
"Second you mix in this straw and water," I say.
"O.K," they say growing excited.
"Now you pour the liquid in a mold," I reply anxiously.
"Got ya," they all say.
"Now just lay it in the sun to dry," I say. I was very glad they were understanding.
"WOW! That sounds easy! Can we make some right now?" they all yell.
"Why of course you can!!!" I say very happily.
Later a bell rings. It is time for dinner. The warm atole felt good going down my throat. After dinner we go to church. For two hours we sit and listen to Fray Altimira talk about God. After church we did some Spanish dances. It is very fun to move around to all that singing. When we get worn out we head to our sleeping quarters. As I laid down I thought about how proud I was to be a padre. I was glad to be helping Spain and all those Indians. I hope I can turn all the Indians to Christianity.
Today I preached about God instead of teaching the Spanish dialect. When we were saying "Amen," that really tall native yelled "Shaymen,' I mean come on! He didn't even say shaman. His cheeks turned bright reddish brown. Then it was my turn to make a fool out of myself. When I was reminding them why we were here I said: "And remember everybody, the reason we're here in this church today is to, is to, convert your souls to Christianity." After I made that remark, I felt so dumb that I felt important. The church I was in today was the small church with ten rows and where the people are always quiet (excluding the really tall guy that yells a lot).
Of course you should know that because today is Wednesday, it was my turn to ring the bells. Everyone says that they want to ring the bells. Personally I don't like it because you get something like a mild case of bronchitis from trying to yell over the ding dong of the bell so the whole mission can hear you. Another reason I don't like it is because it makes my arm hurt from shaking my arm as far as the bell will let my arm go while waving my arm as fast as possible. The worst part is yelling "BREAKFAST TIME" at the top of my lungs and about 10 seconds after that you get a mad stampede of Natives asking you if it really is breakfast time. The thing I do like is that the bell is bronze and bonze is my favorite color.
My shift on supervising the Natives is from two o'clock to five o'clock. When it was my shift today, I accidentally was falling asleep when I heard a child screaming "OH-NO, OH-NO! DADDY IS RUNNING AWAY... AAHHH!!!!!."
I immediately yelled "Guards, After Him!!" And they caught him only minutes later. The run-away was sentenced to hard labor at the presidio. I felt slightly guilty about doing that but I felt better when I gave the child a tortilla for dinner instead of atole.
p.s. I am leaving on a voyage tomorrow.