This is a projects especially close to my heart since my family descends from California Indians. Our tribe is the Cahuillas, originally from the Hemet area, "transferred" to the San Gabriel Mission. My mom and some of her cousins have done a little research and have tracked down many family members born and baptized at the Mission, starting in the early/mid 1800's. Knowing this, Darian chose Mission San Gabriel for his project. So, yesterday, I drove all the kids down to the mission for some research.
First off, can I just say that driving to San Gabriel from the Antelope Valley with 4 excited kids in the car is an adventure all its own. But, we made it. Darian was really excited to go through the cemetery first, but that didn't last long since my two little ones decided to play leap frog with the flat headstones. Not exactly respectful, especially for the people who were there visiting their families. So off we went to the main part of the mission. We walked through the gardens, saw the old well, aqueduct and outdoor fire pits. They have a really nice little museum that I was not able to fully appreciate because Vibiana decided that was a perfect place to jump up and down (she liked the noise it made on the old wooden floors). There was a funeral taking place in the church itself, so we weren't able to go in yet. We went for some lunch, and when we came back we were able to go inside the church. I love the simplicity of the missions, but Darian loved all the ornate decoration up in the sanctuary, especially the huge sanctuary lamp. He was most impressed with the baptismal font - a beaten copper basin that has been in use since the late 1700's. His eyes were huge as he touched it and said, "Wow, Mom. Our ancestors were baptized right here."
As we were leaving, he grabbed a baggie that was in the car and ran back to the cemetery to grab a few handfuls of dirt - he wants to put official mission dirt on his project. It was a long drive, and a heck of a lot of walking around for me, but totally worth it to see his appreciation and excitement.
The cemetery entrance
This is one of a handful of hand carved tombstones. Pretty cool.
The walkway from the cemetery to the old Mission church
The front of the church. The man in front is from the mortuary and wouldn't let anyone in.
The kids in front of a replica of a hut that would have been lived in.