Lightning strikes are not uncommon at Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home. Our campus seems to attract an unusual amount of lightning. We frequently lose a tree to a bolt from the blue or some part of our phone system is fried by a brilliant flash that strikes the ground.

Nor are lightning strikes a new thing.

In his 1941 report to the Louisiana Annual Conference, former Superintendent, Rev. C. B. White, tells of a January lightning strike that burned a barn. He also reported how good came from the loss.

Rev. White reported,

Following the burning of our barn by lightning in January we were able to secure enough cash not only to rebuild the barn, but to make several other repairs and improvements." (This, you will see, was an understatement.)

The 1941 barn burning is one of those common examples in the Home’s history of how trouble becomes a blessing. Rev. White continues,

We collected $1,000 in insurance from the barn that burned, received slightly over $2,500 in cash contributions, approximately 20,000 feet of lumber and a few other materials from friends and sawmills nearby."

In today’s economy, that $1,000 in insurance received for the barn would be worth about $12,000. And adding the $2,500 in contributions received for rebuilding brings the modern day equivalent to about $42,000. And that doesn’t include the value of 20,000 feet of donated lumber and other materials.

You may wonder why the Home received so much support to rebuild a barn (of all things). Here’s why.

In 1941 the Home was very much a working farm. Survival depended upon the production of food crops, the maintenance of a dairy herd for milk and butter, the care of a large hog farm for Winter meat, and the storage of large amounts of canned vegetables which were grown, harvested and canned by the residents. The barn was an extremely important structure.

The Superintendent continued in his annual report:

We also received a contribution of two large buildings from the former Methodist Protestant Church. These buildings were the former Young People’s Camp buildings at Chatham.

This donation of buildings was not a simple real estate transaction. Receiving these buildings required a lot of physical work on the part of the Home.

We tore down and hauled all the lumber here which was approximately 45,000 feet.

Moving all that lumber down the Chatham Highway in 1941 would have been quite a chore for the staff and residents. But only then did the hard work of rebuilding begin!

With this much cash and materials on hand we rebuilt the barn that burned, tore down the two remaining barns and rebuilt them into a tool shed and large workshop, a new meat market, repaired and painted our refrigeration plant, repaired and painted our potato kiln, refinished the girls’ two dining rooms and kitchen, repaired four play rooms, repaired the sewing room, added a small library for the smaller girls, built a new road leading to our dairy barn, tore down and rebuilt a big hay barn, built another barn and joined the two with a large shed for grinding feed, made repairs on the home of the farm manager, and a few repairs on the boys’ cottages.

Wow! And this work was all completed between the lightning strike in January, 1941 and October 1st when Rev. C. B. White made his annual report.

An important lesson from the past: When the sky grows dark, thunder booms and lightning strikes … it may be a blessing in disguise. (But remember, too, the blessing may require an awful lot of work!)

Rick Wheat
President and CEO

* Financial calculations are based upon U. S. Consumer Price Index data published in the Handbook of Labor Statistics, U. S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Accessibility Toolbar