Among the 21 missions that were built in California, paving the way for a new civilization, Father Junipero Serra (the Father of the California Missions,) loved the Carmel Mission most of all. He made it his home base and office for performing business in his tough assignment. He took orders from the King of Spain, and was told to make things happen in California (at the time it included Alta and Baja California.) He was to oversee the construction of many missions along the California coast to help Spain claim new lands and fortify those land holdings nearly 6,000 miles away.
Serra had a tough assignment. Some native tribes fought and killed the new explorers in events such as the 1775 massacre of Father Jayme at San Diego Mission, and many natives died on Father's Serra's clock, susceptible to new diseases introduced from Europe.
Eventually the mission system fell into decay-long after Father Serra died. And of course, Spain relinquished its right to California, letting Mexico take control. Today the missions are mostly replicas of the original structures, and they serve as places of learning for students and adults, and churches for local populations.
Junipero Serra was a controversial figure, but still is honored as the Father of the California Missions. He was buried in his favorite mission, Carmel Mission, formally called San Carlos Borreomeo. Be sure to visit it when you drive along the scenic Central Coast and hopefully get a chance to stay in the Monterey Bay Area.