Tortillas & Miracles


Tortillas and miracles…sometimes they are one and the same.

A lot of you know that home made corn tortillas are a staple for my family back home.  Many a kind Mexican woman has attempted over the years to help we Sonntag girls learn the art of corn tortilla making.  Camille particularly put forth a lot of effort into studiously applying the many principles offered by these women.  We had many failed attempts over the years and eventually, success!  Now that we know what principles seem to work (most of the time), and because the ingredients are simple (special corn flour, regular flour and water), tortillas are something we make quite regularly.

The Maseca corn flour, though readily found in our area of Washington state,  is not something that is easily located in all parts of the US.  I spent a good month looking for it in Pennsylvania last summer with no success (made some attempts at using the finest ground corn flour I could find with no luck) and its not as commonplace in Virginia either, although they do have several little stores that carry the necessary ingredient.  When Bobby conducted the “scouting trip” to Panama back in January I asked him to please try to find out if the Maseca corn flour for tortillas could be purchased in Panama.  He did a nice thorough search for me and found that in all likelihood we would be able to purchase it in Panama City (a 10 hour bus ride or 1 hour flight away), and possibly even closer, but no one in this island area carried it.  This news was somewhat reassuring as I am not quite sure I could live without corn tortillas (God knows my limitations though so only He can truly answer that) and I made the decision that I did not have to pack the 25 lb. bags from Winco amongst my “must haves” for our trip.  I did however bring along a tortilla press because I wasn’t about to push my luck on this issue.  If God could provide Maseca, the least I could do was come prepared with the tools I needed! ;)

Well, after getting off the plane in Bocas a month ago, and once all of our luggage was safely on a dock waiting for our boat ride to our new place, Kim from the local Youth With A Mission base kindly offered to take me down the street to get any food items we needed as it’s not the easiest thing to just make a run to the grocery store.  She had the presence of mind to encourage me to purchase enough food supplies for at least a couple of days because it’s good to be prepared around here….you know, just in case your boat breaks down on the first day or you get stranded in the middle of the water with boat issues on day 2, you know, things of that nature. ;) (Thank you Kim for all of your little tips in that quick little shopping venture!)

I was quickly trying to think of any ingredients I might be able to use for a few meals…not something that was on my brain when we arrived, hot off the plane, so I felt like I had to switch gears real quick and figure out what this place had to offer and what kind of a menu I could come up with quickly.  Of course my mind went to tortillas.  Now, I knew Bobby had done the research…Kim confirmed it for me as she was with him when he went on a hunt and inquired at all of the local stores.  But I got a crazy notion to ask the kind looking grocery clerk if they happened to carry Maseca.  He immediately said “yes” and proceeded to walk me to another aisle.  All the (short) way there I was thinking, “he had to have misunderstood my question, I know they don’t carry it” or maybe it’s because my Spanish accent is different?  Much to my amazement and surprise, he took me right to a shelf with little mini bags of Maseca, just waiting for me to take home.  Really???  Bobby was shocked, said they most certainly did not have it when he was here last and had even checked out a little Mexican food restaurant to find out where they purchased it from, and they confirmed it was not found locally.  And here we were, not an hour on the ground and a couple of little bags of Maseca were in my hot little hands.  Mexican Maseca!  In the middle of a little Chinese-owned store in Panama in the closest grocery shopping area of our new place……that my friends, was a miracle.

I believe in miracles.  I believe they happen every day with or without our awareness.  This might sound like the silliest claim to a miracle you’ve ever heard, but He cares people.  He cares.  About the big and about the little things.  Yes, God can heal the sick, give sight to the blind and even raise the dead.  But He’s not just in the “big” things, the big miracles that display His power.  He’s in the little miracles that show His tenderness and His delight in blessing His children in random places,at random times, not because of something we’ve done, or even because we’ve asked.  Just because He loves us.  I know I miss these little acts of love all of the time but I don’t want to.  I don’t want to be blind and unaware, chalking little “coincidences” as fluke random-ness that happened by chance.  Because I know He’s behind every good gift and He knows what blesses our hearts.

For those of you who know me well, you know what a gift this was to my heart from a Father who really cares about ALL of our needs.  And about a lot of our wants too. ;)

Tonight we had a local pastor and his family over for dinner, and you know what we ate?  You guessed it, tacos!  Dinner got some good reviews so I’m happy to see that corn tortillas appear to be well liked in Panama as well.  You’ll hear more on this lovely family in the future, I’m sure, as we really love them already and are looking forward to spending a lot more time getting to know them.  I am a little concerned that my only posts on this blog center around food, so in the future I will try to switch things around with some non-food posts.  Oh, and in the event you hadn’t noticed, this would probably be a good time to mention that I haven’t worn makeup in at least 3 weeks so I might look quite different then the last time you all saw me.   Fair warning for you.  Here’s a photo Ellie took of me and my beloved Maseca a few weeks ago as I was putting away groceries. I think I was saying, “Ellie, we have Maseca!!!!”  The kids and Bobby were almost as pleased as I was. :)


  1. Andilee
    Apr 30, 2012

    Yay!!! So glad you got to make your homemade tortillas. We just got to enjoy some this weekend at the beach. I heard from many of the girls how they learned to make the tortillas thanks to you and Camille. ;-) We missed you terribly and wished you could have enjoyed in the festivities with us, especially Bon. Praying for you all and for more miracles, big and small. :-)

  2. Lucy
    Apr 30, 2012

    Hooray!!! Yeah!!!God cares!! I know just little things, he cares!! I completely knows how you feel abou it :) That’s why he is sooo amazing!! I am so happy for you Shirlene!! next time when I come down visit, you know what to make me ;) haha!! lol….Can’t wait to hear more from you, and How God works in you!!

    Much Love!!! :)

  3. jan davis
    May 1, 2012

    Thanks for sharing such a special miracle. A good reminder that the Lord cares much about every detail… he has helped me find MANY things that I know are miracles! You look great! Blessings on you always and you are in our prayers daily along with the rest of our kiddoes!

  4. Paula
    May 1, 2012

    What a loving Father we have! So happy for you and your family that you get to enjoy some of the “little but big” desires of your heart and tummy!!!! I will look forward to eating your yummy tacos when we come down for a visit. I love that you share about the food down there, as a mom we all know that our days essentially revolve around making food for one meal and then we are on to the next! I hear the cry “I’m hungry, Mommy” all day long :) I can only imagine how challenging it would be to feed my brood without being able to run to Costco and Trader Joes!!! Love you all. xoxoxox

  5. Paula
    May 1, 2012

    p.s. I hope you bought every single bag of Maseca that he had on the shelf!

  6. Mom - Nancy Wood
    May 1, 2012

    I share in your joy and your belief of miracles much more often than we realize!
    You are absolutely beautiful with no make-up! I’m sure with the hot humid weather there, it wouldn’t stay on anyway =).
    LOVE hearing from you and that you are all doing soooo well! Our God is an awesome God!
    Love you guys and miss you!

  7. Janelle
    May 1, 2012

    Who needs make up when you’re as naturally beautiful as YOU?! I loved hearing how His everyday miracle touched your heart. And He knew Maseca would bless many through your hands and loving touch! Thank you, Sas, not only for sharing tacos with our family (and we have them almost once a week, mostly for company, too) but also leaving such a legacy there in Panama by responding to the Father in obedience and willingness to be used! I love you dearly!

  8. Mama
    May 2, 2012

    Hola linda, those tacos look YUMMY!…mmm. I can not imagine cooking anything in such heat! Salads and more salads y sorbetes o jugos is all I can think in making. We sure enjoyed the sweet maseca encounter :). And I thank the Lord for the working hands that made those good tacos, my Shoshi :)…..and for the working hands of Marta, Lupe, Rosario, and all the other ladies that shared their tortilla making skills with us. Many have enjoyed and continue to enjoy the fruits of their labor, now even in Panama! Any arepas on sight? Te quiero mucho, besitos!!

  9. Nicole
    May 2, 2012

    can we come for dinner ?? ;) love you and miss you guys!!

  10. jennifer
    May 2, 2012

    God’s love is crazy generous! I adore that about Him…His indulgent care and love toward us….
    I pray our eyes and hearts would be open to see and recieve His love poured out!
    I am thrilled God did that for you…right after you arrived, right in the middle of chaos! so FUN!
    Of course they liked your YUMMY homemade tortillas! How could they not? Sp exciting to have new friends to make tortillas for!
    And you are gorgeous! ALWAYS!

  11. Toni
    May 3, 2012

    Three comments:

    1) You look even more beautiful without make-up. Pure joy is the best make-up anyway. :-)

    2) Please keep writing about food. Often. With pictures. Thank you.

    3) Thank you for the reminder that there really are no coincidences.

    Sending lots of love and prayers your way!!

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