Thursday, July 1, 2010

Trip To Carville

Some journeys are just worth it, you know what I mean? My family was thinking it quite odd that I now had this burning desire to visit a place that was once a "Leper" Colony, now known as the National Hansen's Museum. Not only that, it was located smack dab in the middle of nowhere, Louisiana!

It's difficult for me to describe just how excited I was to have finally made my way here.

Upon entering the museum I was quite surprised to be greeted by someone very special. This is Simeon Peterson and I had read of him in Neil White's book, "In the Sanctuary of Outcast." Simeon was sent to Carville with Hansen's Disease when he was just five years old. He has been there for sixty years! It was such a pleasure and honor to meet him. You can read an interesting account of Simeon's story at this British Broadcasting News website. Meeting Simeon was the highlight of my trip, without a doubt.

Since most of the grounds of Carville are now occupied by the National Guard we could not tour most of the buildings and old hospital. They would allow us to visit the cemetery that hundreds of former patients are buried in. Most people that were exiled to Carville usually changed their name because there was so much social stigma associated with having this disease. They did it to protect their families. Not only that but they were also assigned a number when they arrived at Carville. The alias and the number were even placed on their tombstones.

Imagine being told you have an illness, being place in shackles, treated like a criminal, and placed in exile for the rest of your life, never to see family or friends again. Seems harsh punishment for having had the misfortune of having this dreaded disease.

The staff, and precious patients of Carville are credited with having helped to find a cure for Hansen's disease. What a victory! What a triumph! The above photo is one of the first buildings at Carville. It was once called Indian Camp Sugar Plantation. This beautiful, historic home housed the Carville administrative staff.

Sometimes you just don't understand why you have to make a particular journey. I didn't. But I do know that I am blessed to have made this one. Carville touched me in deep, deep places. I am a better person for having visited there.

Much love to my beautiful daughter for joining me on this adventure. We made a few detours along the way, detours that became journeys in and of themselves, but that is a post for another day..well maybe...or maybe not! :)

Blessings of peace everyone and all that is good.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great trip. Isn't it great how such places enlighten you!

Anonymous said...

I imagine you came away with SO MUCH more than you can put into words to share here.
I read the article you posted on Mr. Peterson. I can't begin to imagine what those patients (prisoners of the disease and it's stigma) went through. The shackles, the imprisonment, the segregation ... to not even be able to vote! wow.
I think Mr. Peterson was a bit like Rosa Parks (on a smaller scale)!
May the Lord continue to bless you and reveal to you why He prompted you to visit this place and learn of the wonderful "least of these".

Brenda said...

I'm so glad they've found a cure for this disease. I can't imagine. The only accounts I've read have been in the Word.

forsythia said...

What a beautiful story of your journey.

Stacey said...

I'm so glad you got to take this journey & that your daughter was with you! Definitely something neither of you will forget! Amazing that you got to meet that dear man!

Travis Cody said...

Thank you for sharing this story. I think I understand what you mean about being so compelled to visit a place, but not to be able to say why you feel that way.

ambersun said...

This story helped me have hope for my own struggles with mental help - here's hoping that better treatment and less stigma is just around the corner for me too.


xinex said...

What a fun trip, Debra! And your daughter is lovely!...Christine

Crockhead said...

Thanks for stopping by. As the old Pennsylvania saying goes, "We get too soon oldt and not soon enough schmart."

I'm enjoying your blog, particularly your visit to the former leper colony. I didn't know we had places like that in the U.S.

Kathryn Magendie said...

*smiling* - sometimes things just click together and seem right...

Grayquill said...

I love road trips but why were you exited to go there?
What was the draw?
Your family is confused? So am I, not that it would not be interesting but where did your desire to go for a visit stem from?

Deborah Ann said...

Thank you for sharing this touching story, and pictures. Simeon looks like a sweetheart! How awful that the victims of this disease were treated like prisoners. Thank God this story had a happy ending!

Mimi said...

Hi debra!!!
i know exactly why you had a burning desire to got here, because that is the kind of person youa re, you have a HEART for the people that society wants to throw out or they just want to pretend do not exist. Your calling in life is to minister to those who need the WOrd of God told to them in a way only you can deliver it!!!!
You are a TRUE INSPIRATION to me, one day I have got to meet you!!!!!
Your writings are so touching to me
hugs and love,

Colleen said...

Good for you!! Obviously that book had such a strong impact on you and you went to see it in person. I think that is so cool. And so great that your daughter went with you!! God bless!

Buttercup said...

Agree with Mimi. It is your thoughtful and caring heart that brought you here. Thanks for sharing and thanks so much for your birthday wishes!

Finding Pam said...

I had always heard of this place being from La. Thank you for listening to your heart and giving us a beautiful story to go with it.

Amrita said...

Leprosy was a dreaded disease in India too and now there are very few caes. There is a Leprosy Mission Hospital here and we knew several Chris tian doctors working there. During Easter Week, this year we went to one of their services.

Dr Paul Brand started a hospital for leprosy patients in Louisiana.
I like your pictures.

Patrina's Pencil said...

I understand why you felt drawn to it too. Probably felt like Paul - 'compelled' to go. It had God's signature on it. Like He wanted to enlarge your territory because of His compassion in you. I just love it when His desires for me become my own. This was a very touching account. Thanks for sharing it with us. I am blessed. Wasn't even aware of such a place in America.

Patrina <")>><