Friday, December 02, 2011

Our Family is Complete!

While we have many wonderful stories we'd love to share, we've chosen 5 brief highlights for you – please share these with your local churches as you continue encouraging your people to support us in prayer.

Our first family picture - in the airport
preparing to travel to Costa Rica

  1. In October, we finalized our adoption of Paulina (our 4-year old daughter from Mexico) after a 2-year-long process. She brings so much love and joy into our family and the lives of everyone she meets. 
  2. Joel recently helped train 40 young people at the Caribbean Nazarene College in Trinidad in a weekend "cross cultural orientation." As a result of that training event, one young lady from Guyana is preparing to serve as a short-term missionary for 6 months in 2012; the English Field is planning to train and send a sports evangelism team to Ukraine in 2012 during the Euro Cup Soccer tournament; and additional Work and Witness trips to other countries are being planned by local churches in Trinidad. 
  3. We were able to attend the first Regional Conference for the entire Mesoamerica Region in Guatemala, where over 700 people were in participation. We helped lead a training session on the ministry strategy that we are involved with - to discover and train new missionaries FROM Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean countries with our purpose to help make Christlike disciples in the nations. 
  4. Allison, Nicolas and Annikah are all developing their Spanish language skills terrifically. As well, we have all started to speak primarily in English to Paulina (after being home and primarily speaking Spanish with her for 2 months) to help her quickly learn her second language, as well. As you can imagine, conversations in our home are wonderfully entertaining. 
  5. We were invited to speak at a district NYI camp for the northern part of Costa Rica – training nearly 50 young people in the ministry strategy of Youth Mobilization – the new ministry on our region that partners NYI (Nazarene Youth International) and Missionary Mobilization. 
As you can see, your prayerful support of our ministry is making an impact – we need you!

Youth Camp in Poas, Costa Rica
Please continue to pray for us in these areas:

  • We are training 12 new missionaries from 10 countries over the next 3 months – these missionaries will be serving in 7 different areas on our region in the areas of evangelism, discipleship and leadership development for six months.
  • Pam, as she is involved with translation of Spanish and English ministry resources and training materials and as she disciples new and "young" Believers. 
  • Joel, as he leads NYI and missionary training events in Cuba and Trinidad in January. 
  • The children, as they continue developing their understanding of a 2nd language and developing friendships in Costa Rica. 
  • We are involved with the planning of our regional Nazarene Youth Congress being held in Panama – July, 2012. Pray for God's wisdom and leadership for this event targeting over 800 youth from 30 nations. 
We have received a few emails about how to receive cards and packages here, in Costa Rica. While shipping costs can be higher for packages, lighter-weight items are certainly a very welcomed surprise. We can receive cards and letters quite easily, as well. Some people are cautious to send cash, however we've never had any issues with cards/letters being lost or stolen.

Our mailing address here is:

Joel Tooley 
SENDAS – Seminario Nazareno
PO Box 3977 (Casa #39)

As we prepare our hearts during this season, 
we are celebrating Advent each night by lighting our Advent wreath candles, 
listening to Christmas music and reading Scripture together. 

We were even blessed to have Grampa & Gramma Tooley join us by video
over the internet one night ~ reading the Advent devotional, singing and praying together.

We are so thrilled to be able to serve Jesus, our long-awaited King 

He has come to bring 
            hope, peace and redemption 
                                             and is coming again to restore His creation in relationship with Him.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Waiting on the Waiting to be Over...

How long have you waited for something?

I mean...more than things like Christmas morning or your wedding day. More than waiting for your next train or flight to depart...more than waiting for the delivery of your baby in the hospital birth ward.

I'm talking about the kind of waiting like the single woman who has been waiting for a husband; the man with cancer who has been waiting for the "all-clear;" the pastor waiting for his church to "get it."

We've now been waiting for Paulina to come home for nearly 2 years...the only promise we have is that God is faithful.

I told some friends the other day, "God never asked us to have a 'happily-ever-after' life with Paulina. He only asked us to take the steps to bring her home and to trust Him.

I'm tempted to sermonize that point - however, I will simply say that we have taken every step possible to bring Paulina home...and we continue to trust Him, no questions asked.

We are tired; we are sad; we are frustrated; we are ready. We're waiting on the waiting to be over.

Psalm 123:1-3 (The Message)
"I look to you, heaven-dwelling God, look up to you for help.
Like servants, alert to their master's commands,
like a maiden attending her lady,
We're watching and waiting, holding our breath,
awaiting your word of mercy.
Mercy, God, mercy!"

Thursday, August 11, 2011

You Can Trust Me...I'm Your Dad

When I was a kid, I remember playing games with my older brothers - goofing off with friends - and even just playing with other kids in the neighborhood. We had a wooded area that surrounded our little community in University Park, Iowa - population: 318 people, give or take a few. Every kid knew the woods as more than "just" a wooded area - for many, it seemed like the biggest, most adventuresome forest in the world. So many fun memories were made in the woods...and a few bad ones.

I remember the time when I was playing either "war" or "hide and seek" with a group of other kids in the woods...only this time, it seemed that we had gone deeper than we had ever gone before. There were creekbeds, fallen trees, overgrown vegetation and tracks from area wildlife...the adventure was going to be HUGE this time. I don't really recall whether or not I was the one who was "it," but all of a sudden, I clearly realized I was alone - completely.

I yelled out the names of my friends. Nobody answered. I listened for signs of their movement - the sounds of their voices. Nothing - other than the buzz of a distant mosquito and the trickling water in the creek.


I started to run - quickly realizing that I had no idea where I was running - I had completely lost all sense of direction. Thorn bushes. Mud. Sun setting.

Time passed.


Sheer Panic.

And then...I heard it.

JOEY! (Don't laugh - that was my name as a kid).



Heart pounding out of my chest.

That cry that I had been holding within my throat - you know, that feeling like your throat has a knot the size of your fist in it - that cry suddenly exploded, "DAAAAAADDDDD!!!!!"

DAD! I'm coming! Keep yelling!

Within seconds, I reached the edge of the woods where I had heard my Dad's voice coming from and Dad was in full sight as I ran full-speed into his arms. And then I lost it - I completely fell apart and wept as I buried my head into my Dad's neck, hugging him and crying, "Daddy, I was so scared! They left me and I was lost!"

"I'm here for you, kid - you don't have to be afraid anymore."

That's all he needed to say.

I have no idea why he was there, but he was...and we've never talked about it since.

I'd relegated that experience into the "Almost Forgotten" file of my mind - until this week.

Yesterday, Pam and I took the kids for a short drive outside of Pagosa Springs, Colorado - one of our favorite "get away from it all" places. This has been a restorative place for us over the past few years.

This trip was suppose to be a quick trip:

  • 20 minute drive
  • 15 minute hike up to Treasure Falls - the brochure listed the hike as "EASY."
  • 10 minute hike back to the car
  • 20 minute drive back

When we reached the parking area, the trail that we started out on had a big sign: "TRAIL CLOSED."

So, I did what any good Dad would do. I said, "Come on, kids! Let's see how far we can go!"

Well - a normal 15 minute hike took the Tooleys nearly 85 minutes. I won't go into all of the details - those are memories for my kids to share some day in the future. I will say that there was GOOD reason why the sign said "TRAIL CLOSED."

Trees had fallen, vegetation had overgrown the path, and portions of the trail had eroded away in some pretty treacherous parts of the path.

It was at such a point that I decided to venture ahead of Pam and the kids to see whether or not the trail and the ensuing chasm were crossable. I tried crossing it. It looked terribly frightening, yet - in all honesty it was safe for us to cross. I had a solid footing - there were branches from a long-time fallen tree to grab on was safe.

I'm not sure what brought him to this critical point of hysterical fear, but when Nic saw me cross the eroded path at that high-altitude point in the trail, he went berzerk. He lost it. He pleaded and cried, "No, Daddy! Please don't make us go any further!" He sobbed huge sobs with giant, crocodile tears.

I KNEW we could cross safely. I KNEW we had come so far and the reward was just ahead...I could hear the water falls cascading over the mountain side.

Nic was still crying, pleading to turn back. My fatherly instincts kicked in at this point and I knew that if we turned back - a huge teaching moment would escape my son...and ultimately, me.

At the same time, my heart was absolutely crushed because my son was so gripped with fear. His tears were almost unbearable. I could have just scooped him up and headed home. Instead, I said in a calm voice, "Son? Can you look into my eyes? Look at me." And then I asked, "What is it that you're afraid of?"

He didn't miss a beat. In his small, pleading voice, he said with conviction, "I'm afraid I'm going to fall off the mountain and die." Tears were running down his face.

I replied, "Son - that's not going to happen. You can trust me. You have to trust me. We are not going back - we're going forward and in order for us to do that, we all need you to be brave and to trust Dad."

"What if fall!?" was his immediate response.

"I'm going to be holding on to you so tightly that even if you slip, I won't let you fall."

Now - when I asked Annikah if she was going to cross, she responded with a "YES!" in the same way as if I had asked, "Annikah, would you like to have a million kitties, puppies and your own flower garden?" She had ZERO hesitation. She grabbed my hand...took 2 1/2 steps and was across safely.

I didn't even have to ask Allison - she just grabbed my hand, found her footing and crossed the broken pathway over the ravine.

And then, standing behind Nicolas and rubbing his arms and neck in a way that only a comforting Mother could do, Pam said, "Nicolas - Daddy promises to hold on to you. You'll be safe - you can trust him...and I'm right behind you."

That was it. That's all it took.

He grabbed my hand - took his 2 steps and was safely across.

His fear was gone, instantly - His trust was full.


Today, I found time early in the morning (thanks to a faulty alarm clock that woke me up WAY too early) to go for a wonderful walk to a coffee shop near the place where we're staying. A fantastic double-shot americano (2 Splendas and just the right amount of cream) along with an hour of praying and reading Scripture was what God had arranged for me.

Jeremiah 39:18: "I will save you; you will not fall..., because you trust in me, declares the LORD."

There are so many promises in Scripture - none have ever failed. This particular one was for today.

And then - I opened up Facebook and read through the first 10 updates that appeared on my page. The third one down hit me in such a way that, right there in the middle of the coffee shop, I actually started to cry. My friend had posted something so simple, "'Trust in me, Cindy.' ~ Abba."

Perhaps it was because of the previous day's experience with Nicolas and how my mind kept coming back to it. Perhaps it was because of the promises God had once again laid in front of me through His living, breathing Word.

The image of Father God...Daddy God...Abba - standing at this seemingly impossible precipice that our family is in front of in our journey right now, saying, "Trust me, Joel and Pam. I'm your Daddy and I will save you - you will not fall because you trust in ME."

Our lives have experienced so much uncertainty this past year. I often look at the path in front of me and like Nicolas, cry out, "No! Let's just go back! I don't want to get hurt!"

Our Loving Father - who we can ALWAYS trust, stands in front of us promising, "If you'll hold on to me, I will not let you fall."

Well - after we made it past the "pit of death" as Nicolas later referred to it, I asked him, "Hey, Nic...what do you think of our hike now?"

"Well, Dad...that was the scariest thing I've ever done and I never want to do it again."


"...but, I'm really glad we did it."

Me too, son. Me, too.

PS: Shortly after our harrowing experience over the ravine - we stumbled upon a very well-kept, wide and well-marked path. It turns out, the National Park Service had built a new, easier path that started just yards/meters away from where we had started off on our own - down the "CLOSED TRAIL." The falls were marvelous and the journey down the mountain path was quick. Nic was a much happier hiker!

PSS: Dad, I love you. Thank you for never failing me - for always being there at just the right moment.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain When She Comes

There's an old folk song often sung by children in the United States that carries whimsical lyrics and a catchy tune - the air of the folk song lends towards something hopeful...that "something" that is highly anticipated, sought after...just around the next corner. Hopefully.

We returned to the USA from Costa Rica during the 1st week of July - just in time to watch some fireworks and enjoy a small-town Independence Day parade in Georgia. We then drove to Louisville, Kentucky to participate in the quadrennial "Nazarene Youth Conference" - where over 6,000 teenagers from Canada and the USA met together for a week of serving others, worshiping God, and developing as young leaders. Followed by this amazing an event was a time set aside to speak in several churches throughout SW Ohio and Indiana - thanking churches for their faithful giving to World Evangelism and to generate prayer and financial support for our ongoing ministry.

Our intent was to hopefully be interrupted during this time by a phone call from Mexico - telling us that they were ready for us to bring Paulina home.

Instead, we received news that her paperwork was held up - yet again. The news also included the information that the government office that held her paperwork had inexplicably closed for a couple of weeks.

Then, (we can't make this stuff up!) we received a call from the US government informing us that "our fingerprints had expired." We knew this was a possibility, but did not anticipate our journey reaching this inevitable moment. After a few phone calls of attempted negotiation, we were told that we would need to have our fingerprints renewed in El Paso in the middle of August.

All of our highly tentative plans were no longer tentative - they were obsolete.

We WERE planning to return to Costa Rica to complete our final 8 weeks of Spanish language school - with Paulina sitting next to us on Flight #1247, Seat 25B. That could still happen.

THE FAQ (frequently asked question) we receive is, "When is Paulina going to be with you?"

Our answer: "When her little legs are dangling under our dining room table."

So - for now, we're on our way back to our El Paso home to have our fingerprints scanned once again and to spend some time with our little girl in Mexico.

She'll be coming around the mountain when she comes!

(For more information on the background of this song, visit:'ll_Be_Coming_'Round_the_Mountain ).

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Paulina celebrated her 4th birthday last week with people who love her and are nurturing her beautifully - yet, without her Mommy and Daddy and her brother and sisters.

It turns out that we're waiting on a paper that needs to be signed by someone in a government office who has been on "disability leave" for an undetermined amount of time. We've heard that someone has made contact with the correct government office and that things are once again moving.

Meanwhile, we're waiting. God is teaching us to trust Him more and more. It's easy to trust God; it's not easy to trust people who don't know Him. He is sovereign. He is present - with us and with Paulina. He is in control.

We trust Him...and we wait.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Language School

Joel and I have now completed 3 months of our 6 months of Spanish language classes here on the campus of Semenario Nazareno de las Americas (SENDAS) in Costa Rica. We have enjoyed our time with our teacher, Gaby, conversing in Spanish about God's work in our lives, and of course mixing in grammar and new vocabulary along the way.

Our Spanish ability has been tested as well, as we participate in church each Sunday and converse with other missionaries in the office, in reality a very international community. This past Sunday we were privileged to go to our pastor's house for Sunday lunch. As we sat around the table for several hours, talking in Spanish and laughing together, I was also praising God for all that we have learned so far.

We are half way through our time of schooling, and we still have much to learn. But, God is faithfully helping us!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

We're all waiting...

When we said, "Yes" to God, we entered a whole new world on this incredible journey of adoption. For over 1 1/2 years now, our life story has been wrapped around "adoption." We're still waiting, of course. Actually - we have decided now that we are all professional "waiters."

Not a day passes by without Allison, Nicolas, and Annikah praying for Paulina...typically Annikah is the one who leads in the prayer. Her typical prayer goes something like this: "Dear Jesus, Thank you for letting Paulina be our sister. Please let her come home soon and help the people who have our papers to look at them. Please help Paulina love you because you love her. Please help all the people who are taking care of her - help them to love Paulina and to love you, too." Annikah is waiting in prayer - anticipating her new sister will learn to love Jesus as much as she does.

Since Nicolas is the practical thinker in the bunch, he has been the one who was always concerned about the adoption time frame, how much everything was costing, and whether or not we were going to have enough money to cover the expense of our adoption. He's also the one who has been preoccupied with not "IF" but WHEN Paulina would encounter mean kids who could possibly hurt her with mean-spirited questions or comments...and how he can protect her. Nicolas is waiting in anticipation of what it means to be Paulina's big take care of her.

Allison has been one of our best sojourners in this adoption process - she senses when we're worried or stressed and has a terrific ability to share that burden with us. When we're privileged to spend time with Paulina, Allison is the one who makes a special point to talk to Paulina at her eye level and listens to Pau carefully - to pick up on the things she cares about, like the horses; chickens; the park and her friends Mayra, Carlitos and Anita. Allison is waiting to be the best big sister a younger sibling could ever imagine...and she's waiting to celebrate the finalization of this part of our journey.

And then, there's Paulina...Paulina is the one who has been waiting longer than any of us. I've often wished I could have a peak into her precious little mind.
  • What does she wonder about?
  • What does she think when she sees us all parade into her life - happy, hugging, kissing, talking, hugging some more, playing, hugging some more and then saying "good-bye" once again. What does she think when we all walk away together, leaving her behind?
  • What does she think about the nannies who care for her?
  • What does she think about the other children who share a home with her? They are all children who are specially challenged: some can't see; some can't walk; some can't move at all - most cannot talk. What is she thinking about all of this?
This is really all she knows -- this IS all she knows. This is Paulina's "normal." Paulina has been told that she's going to live with her new family -- but, really...what does that mean to a 3 1/2 year old little girl who only knows the people and place where she currently lives? She's waiting. Paulina is waiting for the unknown - something that everyone else seems very happy about, yet she knows nothing of.

And so...we're all waiting.

Psalm 27:14 (New Living Translation): "Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD."

In our time of waiting - Pam and I have found that if we try to rush things along or push doors open, then we are not waiting...we're doing. This passage (and many others) does not tell us to "Do things quickly and impatiently for the Lord." No, it tells us to WAIT, BE BRAVE AND COURAGEOUS...and then again, WAIT. And of course, the icing on the cake...wait PATIENTLY for the Lord.

We're not worried, we're not preoccupied with the nitty-gritty details in the in-n-out of every day...we have become professional "waiters." for those of you who really want to what's going on while we're waiting...

Two weeks ago, the US received our final paper work from Mexico. During this process (of waiting), the US reviews Paulina's official birth documents, her statement of history, and her status as a legal orphan, along with the official statement that Mexico recognizes us as eligible to adopt her.

Once we receive the final approval from the US government (possibly within the next couple of weeks), our adoption agency will help facilitate setting up our appointments with the Mexican government (not necessarily in this order) to:
  • Finalize Paulina's adoption in the State of Chihuahua
  • Getting Paulina's name to be officially changed to "Paulina Fe Tooley" (Fe = Faith in Spanish)
  • Flying to Mexico City with Paulina
  • Making an appointment to get Paulina's Mexican passport
  • After we get her Mexican passport, we have to take her to the US embassy to have her adoption finalized there and to have her Mexican passport changed to a US passport and to obtain her adoption visa.
  • Then, we will fly back to El Paso, Texas - once she touches US soil, she will have full citizenship rights.
When this will all take place? No one knows...we're anticipating it will happen soon, however. Perhaps in the middle of July...but then again, we're "waiting," so we can't truly begin to plan.

Financially, we've been positioned well - thanks to the sale of our personal vehicle, several garage sales, wonderful donations from several friends and one particularly generous donation from some very dear friends who God had lead them to care for "the least of these" through our adoption.

As international adoptions go, expenses mount up without warning - many revolving around non-glamorous details like translation of official documents, authenticating documents and travel.

We thought that we were doing okay up to this point - however, our adoption agency recently notified us of $2,500.00 in fees that we have not anticipated. If you feel impressed to be a part of this adoption journey with us financially - we would GREATLY appreciate your investment. No amount is too small nor is it too big.

Still...we are waiting...waiting on the LORD.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Paulina to join the family soon...

Our adoption story actually began in October of 2009 when we felt God impressing us to get involved personally with orphans. From that time, our lives have been changed as we have visited the orphanage Los Ojos de Dios (The Eyes of God) in Ciudad Juarez numerous times and have worked many hours on adoption paperwork and process.

A process that began with our answering “Yes” to God has touched many lives in Mexico and the US and has changed us forever. Although, the process has taken much more time than we planned and would have hoped, we are confident that God continues to work in many lives through the story of this little girl. God is faithful!

The latest news is that we have a court appearance in Mexico on April 27th. We are at the beginning of the finalization. Please pray with us that God’s will would be done in each of our hearts as we continue to say “Yes” to Him.

family picture - Nov, 2010

In Costa Rica

Recently, we accepted a new assignment from Nazarene Global Mission to join the Mesoamerica Region and work with NYI and Global Mission. We arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica, on March 1 and began Spanish language study the following Monday.

We have thoroughly enjoyed our time and our ministry in El Paso, Texas, these past four years. El Paso has become home to us, and God has been gracious to use us to touch people’s lives.
When we talked to our kids about this change in ministry, Allison, age 11, said, through tears, “I know this is what God has next for us.” Her words say for each of us that is difficult to say goodbye, but we are filled with anticipation and joy in continuing to serve God.

We will be working with NYI leaders and those called to serve as missionaries across the region, which includes the 23 countries of the Caribbean, Mexico, and the 6 countries of Central America. This will be a ministry among 4 major language groups and about 75,000 young people.

Please pray that we will be led clearly by God in this new assignment. As always with change, there are many adjustments. The new region is experiencing change as well, but God never changes! We continue to rely on Him!