Friday, April 3, 2015

Abbi, Our Little Photographer

- by Jimmy

Abbi loves to use the camera, and has for a long time. Here is an example of a series she has done...

 Asking for the camera... How can I resist?

 I think Rachel might be a little unsure of this.

 Crazy momma!
 These are a few of my favorite things...

 (I just CANNOT get over this face :)

These girls are SUCH a joy! (Let's just say the vast majority of the time.)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Wow! Long lost Update

by Jimmy

It has been awhile...

I resolved this year to stay better connected with friends and family this year. Feel free to keep me accountable to that.

The time is 5:00 PM, my usual school quitting time. Today, however is a little different. I just put Rachel to sleep, and am enjoying a few minutes of quiet.

Our nickname for her is "tornado." Rachel and I returned to the house from the airport. (Becky, Abbi, and Mikayla are taking a quick trip to Texas.) Not 2 minutes from entering the house, I walk into the bedroom, and Rachel is spreading the hundreds of hair bands we have accumulated, across the floor. I rescue half of them. Then sing the "Clean Up" song. Again.

I do believe that it is going to be a busy, fun filled, very energetic, challenging two weeks.

The year has been a great one. And ended with a bang. Our newest, sweet Mikayla, joined us the day after Christmas. Prior to birth, we thought she was a boy, but ended up proving us wrong. We have lucked out once again. How can one family have three, such sweet girls?!

3 under 3, however, are keeping us very busy. I keep wondering if we can get anything done anymore. My wife is amazing!

So, in light of the few moments I will have to update this blog, I think I will have to work smarter, and just update more frequently, and keep the posts more compact.

Thank you all for your love, support and prayers.

Jimmy - for the growing Burton clan.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Some things you may not know about Haiti

-Married women in Haiti are referred to by their husband's name rather than their own. The Haitians call me "Madam Jimmy", which literally means "Jimmy's wife".

-Haiti is about the size of Vermont. However, it's population is around 10 million whereas Vermont has a population of approximately 620,000.

-If you live in Haiti for a few years, your 2 year old will probably start checking her underwear for ants before she puts them on. Ours does anyways.

-80% of schools in Haiti are private and due to poverty only about 40% of school aged children can attend school regularly. There are annual school fees and all students must have special uniforms and money for school supplies. Many children are also needed at home for tasks like pumping and carrying water. On average most girls in Haiti attend just 2 years of school. You do not advance through grades in Haiti by age, but rather by passing a test at the end of the year. Since many students' schooling is interrupted, it is common to have older students still in primary school and students graduating high school sometime in their 20's.

- Pretty much every store or gas station or restaurant in Haiti (not to mention most of the nicer houses) have guards with very large guns stationed at their gates or doors. If you live here fore a while this becomes very normal. Aren't big guys with shotguns more effective than security cameras anyway?
For the first year we lived here we kept the shotgun and shells that our night guard used  in our apartment either under our bed or in the corner of the room. There would be a knock at the door at 6pm each evening for him to pick them up, and another knock at 6am each morning for him to return them. The morning knock would always be preceded by the loud clicking sound of him unloading the 5 shells outside our door. Once Abbi was born we passed the gun storing duty on to someone else.

-Haitians love to gamble. There are small lotto booths all throughout the country. Haitians will ask the gods to reveal winning lotto numbers during their voodoo ceremonies. Most of these lotto huts, as well as most of the local bars and taxis all have words like "God is good" and "Praise Jesus" painted on them. These little slogans are thought of somewhat like good luck charms. There are several lotto booths right next to our apartment and one of them often writes it's winning number up on our gate.

-The largest fortress in the Western Hemisphere, the Citadel, is located in Haiti. It was built in the early 1800's as a protection for the newly independent country from French invasion. We have not made it to visit the Citadel yet, but you know my history loving husband cannot wait until we have the chance.

-Haiti is the most mountainous nation in the Caribbean. From our house we can look to both the North and the South and see mountains. The temperature in the mountains is about 15 degrees cooler than down in the city. It probably averages is in the low 80's rather than the high 90's. We think this is wonderful and love chances to get up into the mountains. However the Haitians that live in the mountains think this is very cold and go around bundled up in coats and hats.

-A common Haitian proverb states "Deye mon, gen mon." This translates "Beyond mountains there are mountains". It can mean both that their are always more troubles and problems as well as that there are always hidden meanings behind things.

-If you live in Haiti for a while your children will start to think that Texas is cold. This is evidenced to by the fact that 2 of our younger students who recently wrote a report on Texas started it with "Texas is a very cold place." We had to laugh. Just goes to show that everything is a matter of perspective.

I could write many more - maybe there will have to be more installments of this post later.

For now it's time to sleep. The same way we always do in Haiti - with the fridge turned off to save power, the fan pointed straight at you to keep you cool and drown out background noise, and with the mosquito net hanging overhead to keep away malaria carrying mosquitoes. :o) Oh yes, and I don't have to worry about setting an alarm clock before bed - that's what roosters are for.
(Although currently our girls usually wake us before the roosters.)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Nothing like a Nana

There's nothing like a Nana for popsicles and picnics
And for every sort of treat
Oh there's no one like a Nana
To give you all the chocolate you can eat

There's nothing like a Nana for sunglasses and stories
She always is the best
For baseball, beaches, and boat rides
Nana is way above the rest



Oh there's nothing like a Nana
As you can plainly see
No there's no one like a Nana
She's the greatest she could be


My mom "Nana" came for a visit for Abbi's birthday at the beginning of the month.
Can you believe we have a 2 year old? We can't.
Nana is Abbi's bestest pal in the whole world, and as you can tell from the pictures, we had lots of fun while she was here. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Throwback Thursday

So, we're not going to blast way back in the past - only 3 years, but man these kiddos and our family have sure changed a lot in those 3 years!

3 years of "First day of school" photos for your enjoyment today.

2011- Year 1 - Just married and just arrived in Haiti to teach the Hendricks and the Livesays.
You've gotta love the look on Isaac's face.  .

 2012 - Year 2. Our crew has changed a bit - The Hendricks are gone, the Livesay's 2 youngest girls are starting school, and the Meadows have arrived in Haiti and are joining us once a week for CC. We also have added Abigail to our family, but I guess she didn't make the picture

 Jan 2014 - Year 3 - Down one student and up one baby. Paige, our first student to graduate, is off rockin' college, and Rachel our newest addition is just the cutest ever. Who are all those other big kids?!? Are some of them really turning into teenagers? And what happened to those newlyweds?

Hope you enjoyed this blast from the past.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Make New Friends But Keep The Old

When we were back in the States last year, I had several people ask me if we had good friends in Haiti that we missed or were keeping up with.  I felt a little awkward answering "no". Because we HAD gotten to know lots of different people in Haiti our first 2 years here, people that we cared about - just none that we were really keeping up with while away or that I would call "good friends". When we decided that we would be spending the next several years in Haiti, I immediately began praying- or maybe more accurately, begging God for this. I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived back in Haiti to realize how many people I actually had missed and was excited to see and catch up with. However we have still continued praying that God would help us develop deeper community and friendships here and have been making an effort towards that.

Haiti can be a difficult place to develop relationships. To begin with, we are foreigners. We stick out because of the color of our skin, our inability to speak the language well, and our lack of cultural understanding - these things compounded with the assumption that all Americans are really rich and will probably give you something, can make it hard to develop real friendships with Haitians. We have many Haitian friends, and I am very thankful for each of them, but I would classify all of those relationships as still in beginning stages.
Haiti is also a tough place for relationships with other foreigners. Although you may have the immediate bond of being outsiders and speaking the same language, people come in and out of Haiti all the time, so you never know if the person you are getting to know will be around next week, next month, or next year. Even when people intend to stay here we've found there are often unforseen circumstances that cause them to leave Haiti not long after their arrival. On top of this, most foreigners here work with some sort of NGO or mission and their work keeps them really busy. If they are able to find time away from work/ministry it is given to taking care of their household and family (simple things like keeping food and power in your home can be such a chore here). And if you can somehow find time outside of these things, there is always the gargantuan obstacle of Haiti's traffic to keep you from getting together with other people. Despite all these things we are continuing to try and are asking God to bless all of our attempts at relationships here.

Abigail has been an interesting case study in relationships this last month. She adores our students and wants to spend any moment she can at school with them.  The feeling is mutual and they love and play with her very well. It is probably due to the dearth friendship options that an 11 year old and an almost 2 year old can be such great friends and playmates.
In contrast, on our return to Haiti Abigail did not remember or recognize any of the Haitians who work around us and who were her best buddies before we left. And much to her mother's dismay she has successfully given them all the cold shoulder, turning away, pouting, and shouting "NO!" at them every time they have tried to talk to her for the last month. Thankfully she finally had a break through last week with one of them. This particular lady was washing clothes right outside our house and let Abigail join her in playing with the water, soap, and bubbles- which happen to be some of Abbi's favorite things in the world. It worked like magic, Abbi has at last reconnected with one of her old friends. There are still many workers she shouts "no!" at - especially when they smother her in typical Haitian fashion, trying to kiss or hold her. But one step at a time right? That goes for her and for us too.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The end (temporarily) of the cabin

So obviously we failed to finish updating about the cabin adventure. We got a little busy working on the cabin, preparing for Haiti, traveling to Hawaii, and celebrating the holidays with family and friends. However, since we are now back in Haiti and need to start writing about our Haiti adventure on our blog I feel obligated to do some sort of cabin wrap-up first.

We were not able to get the cedar siding put up, do any interior finishing, or get electricity and plumbing installed. So, we were not able to rent out the cabin. However, Jimmy did manage with the help of a very kind friend the 2 days after Christmas to get all the windows and doors installed and the place more or less "dried in". This means it should be able to sit as is and stay in good condition. Although we can't rent it out in this condition, there is a woman who lives at Jimmy's parent's RV Park who is very excited to use the building as a "house of prayer" while we are gone.

 I was hoping Jimmy could write a wrap up post on the whole project since it was really his project, but since I ditched him this year to stay at home with our 2 daughters, he is currently VERY busy with school :o) My take is that we learned a lot, Jimmy for the most part (minus working in the freezing cold wind and rain) enjoyed the work, and we are glad we made an attempt at building a cabin even though we weren't able to finish it yet. We look forward to finishing it one day - maybe this summer? - we shall see. As we say in Haiti - "si Bondye vle".

Here are the final cabin photos before we left for Haiti.