It is sometimes tempting to assume that you know all there is to know about a subject. That you have exhausted the learning process on a particular issue and you’re finally ‘there’, you are an expert. As a teacher who is a firm believer in the inquiry method, I’m here to say, “Look again. What else do you see?”
When I was teaching science, I absolutely loved using inquiry. It’s based on looking deeper, asking questions, and digging for more. It’s learner-driven. It is deeply rooted in observation. It’s hands-on and experiential. I love it!
When I became a coach, I immediately fell in to that same vein of questioning. “Tell me more. What else do you see? What other factors are at play? What more is there to learn here?” When I truly fall in to that groove and the inquiry process takes hold, I’m in heaven!
I was recently on a phone call with some friends and we were discussing our recent move to our home in town. It’s a new situation for us, mostly because we have been living in the country and not in the middle of the city for the past 4 years. There is a different dynamic to life and a different rhythm to how things work now, and we are slowly learning those differences and finding our footing here in ‘city center’. So, we find ourselves in the learner seat, students again, asking those crucial inquiry questions of ourselves and our surroundings. One of our friends asked how it was going and what we were learning—specifically, what is new that we hadn’t seen before when we lived in the country. Hmmm… I hadn’t thought of it that way. I had to think for a second. What’s new for us?
One thing is cleaning the outside of the house. I knew that most Spaniards are fanatics about cleaning the house. Homes are swept and mopped and dusted daily. Windows are cleaned at least once a week, if not more. In fact, a clean home is such a high value in this culture that if you are injured or disabled in some way that would affect house cleaning, a home helper is covered in your health care and sent to your house to do these tasks for you while you recover! Y’all, that’s serious!
What I hadn’t realized was that cleaning OUTSIDE the house is just as important as inside. I’m sure there is a spiritual devotional blog in that somewhere, but today is not the day for that. I’m just here to tell you that it is expected that you will go outside and sweep the sidewalk AND THE STREET in front of your house for the entire length of your property. You should also take your soapy mop water and a stiff bristle broom out and sweep/scrub the sidewalk. Don’t forget your windows and door… you must take a duster out there and dust the window sills and any window bars or decorative ironwork and the front door. I’m not talking once a month. I’m talking several times a week! One day, I was outside sweeping my sidewalk and the neighbor came alongside me and started sweeping the street. We swept together and chatted and I caught the subtle hint of the unwritten neighborhood rules. She said that she usually sweeps one day and another lady sweeps on the next day and they sweep the entire block. The implication was that I would sweep every third day and I would sweep the whole block. Okay. Note taken.
Dress code… Spaniards care a lot about how you dress and that you are dressed appropriately for the appropriate activity. You shouldn’t wear yoga pants unless you are going to yoga. You don’t wear exercise clothes unless you are going to the gym. Not to shop, not to a restaurant, not to the grocery store - only to the gym. Appropriate clothing is important. And makeup - I have been told on more than one occasion I forgot my lipstick today. *sigh* HOWEVER, we have found these rules to only apply after 8am. If you go out before then, anything goes! If you walk to the bakery to buy your morning bread and you go before 8, feel free to wear your robe and slippers. If you go out to walk the dog and it’s before 8, pajamas and tennis shoes are fine. No shame. Greet the neighbors. Flash that lipstick-barren smile. Hold your head high - it’s not yet 8am, so it doesn’t count yet.
Part of loving your neighbor is figuring out how to be a part of the neighborhood. We’re still learning the intricacies of life in town… we’ll keep you posted!
Who am I? In my USA life, I was a teacher in Texas for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a Southern Living / Martha Stewart wannabe, a soccer mom, and a short term mission team coordinator / intern director for missions in Mexico... you name it, I probably tried it!
In 2006, my husband Billy and I became cross-cultural workers (CCWs) with TMS Global. For five years, we served in three rural Quechua Wanca villages in the Andes of Peru. And when I say rural, I mean RURAL - like no potty! We have three incredible children... two adult boys who live in Texas, and the Sarah (14) lives with us in whatever country we are serving. I'm still teaching, still taking photos, still leading teams and mentoring, I just do it all in full-time service now! And I'm working hard at giving Southern Living and Martha Stewart a run for their money! I spent my days in Peru learning to live a Quechua lifestyle in a rustic adobe house - cooking Peruvian foods, sewing with Quechua women, raising my chickens and goats and pigs, and planting my gardens. Now I live my life in small town Spain, serving other cross-cultural workers and immigrant peoples, writing, and trying to figure out what life looks like for a Texas girl serving Christ in Southern Europe. Life in His service is AWESOME! I'm happy to share it with you here... Enjoy!