Sunday, April 1, 2012

the tortilla of life

I want to tell you all about something really important in my life here in Mexico. In fact, it is of such high importance that I get to interact with it on a daily basis, at least two times a day! What I am alluding to is…TORTILLAS!

Now, I know I have talked about tortillas before, and how my love of them have just grown with more time that I spend here, but tortillas really do mean more than just a necessary item with all meals.

I have a new role in my family. For at least the past month, I have been able to go and buy the tortillas and coca-cola from the tortilla shop and tienda (it’s like a small store on the street) outside my house. This may not seem like quite an honor, but it actually was a huge step for them to trust me and send me out on my own (okay, it is only a minute, maybe minute and a half walk) to go and buy the tortillas. Just for a cultural reference, when you are allowed to buy tortillas and coke alone at the tienda close to your house, that means you are grown up. So, usually that happens around 11 years old or something, so I am technically old enough, but this is my "big girl" moment in my house. They love that I can go and grab the 10 pesos of tortillas (always make sure they are hot!!) and I always do it with a smile.

Obviously tortillas are important at my worksite where I cook. Sometimes we will go and serve the plates, and everyone will just sit and wait to start eating their food if we haven’t brought out the tortillas yet (even if the food is a type of salad or pasta). It doesn’t matter what food we cook, tortillas are always a side dish. But, for the past couple of weeks, our microwave has been broken. Since we can’t buy fresh tortillas every day, we usually buy for the week and then warm them up in the microwave to freshen and heat them up. Without a microwave, one must warm tortillas up in a pan on the stove. It’s not easy to stand in a very hot kitchen behind the flame heating up over 2 kilos of tortillas…oh, and you flip them with just your hands. This was the moment that I realized I do not have the “Mexican hands.” Vero, the other person in the kitchen with me, is just flipping the tortillas, heating them up, without a flinch. I could barely get close to the pan without feeling the burn! Noticing my lack of tortilla heating up skills, Vero handed me a spatula to help. I graciously accepted it, and even though I have gotten better at heating tortillas up on the stove, to this day I still keep my spatula in hand ☺

If I hadn’t confirmed at my one job that I didn’t have the “Mexican hands,” it was clearly confirmed at Las Palomas (the nursing home). One day I showed up to Las Palomas and was just talking with a couple of women, and one just stopped talking and looked at my hands. I didn’t know what she was doing, but I went with it. She looks at me in the eyes and says, “You don’t make tortillas with these hands, do you?” I said no, and she said that she figured as much because I didn’t have hands that looked like I had made many tortillas. I also have two women, Maria & Juana who live in Las Palomas, who have offered to make the tortillas by hand at my wedding. I tried to explain that a wedding isn’t in my near future, but they both told me that they would be there to make tortillas for the big party of which my wedding will be. I guess I have the hard part figured out now, no? ☺

Tortillas really are a way of life here. They are not only amazing and delicious; they are a job or even a rite of passage. It makes me think of how much meaning John 6:35 has when Jesus says, “I am the BREAD of LIFE, He who comes to me will never grow hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” Jesus really is our daily bread, or daily tortilla if you will, and filling up on Him means we will never be hungry or thirsty. Jesus always provides us with some bread, hope, love, reason, and tortillas when we feel like the world is bringing us down. Going to Him brings comfort to the unknown. Some people in Mexico only have access to tortillas and, if they are lucky, beans. But, the beauty in the corn here is that fresh hand-made tortillas have so many nutrients in it that you can eat tortillas and beans and have a healthy and balanced diet.

Tortillas are good, (and believe me, they are so good, I sometimes will eat 5 in a day!) but God is greater! Keep the faith and love!