There was no particular difficulty in communicating with him. His English, while fractured, could be understood. Of course, the first Bicolano words he learned, when he grasped what they meant, had him cackling in laughter and blushing furiously--or at least we thought so, since we couldn't be sure with his ebony cheeks.
It took some time for Basil to feel comfortable enough to agree to do the first reading during Mass. He prepared for it by practicing whenever he could. Naturally, when the day came, it took on the status of an event, with everyone wishing him well on his first attempt at reading the assigned scripture in English.
Voice sounding tighter and tinnier than usual, he opened the reading, went through several paragraphs of I don't remember which Old Testament book now, and visibly grew more confident as he neared the end. So far, so good. When he finished without a hitch, he looked up and smiled through his glasses, his perfect pearly teeth reflecting the whiteness of his immaculate sotana.
One last line to go. Then Basil said, eyes suddenly bulging: “This is the word of THE GAAHD!”
We almost jumped off our seats in fright. The mass effectively ended a beat later, solemnity all gone as we exhaled one big wave of laughter. Basil stayed three more semesters with us, a chipper friend to everyone. But we remember him most fondly today for one thing: Once upon a lazy morning, without his meaning to, he very nearly gave us a glimpse of the Apocalypse.
PLUS: First Reading, part 1