Have you ever laughed at a romantic flick because of just how contrived and unlikely the plot was? But as they say, truth can be stranger than fiction. And the following love story proves that point. And it all began with a Christmas shoebox.
Tyrel Wolfe was just a 7-year-old small town Idaho boy when he sent Christmas shoeboxes containing school supplies, toiletries, and a couple of toys to children in various countries as part of the humanitarian effort of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian humanitarian organization.
As fate would have it, one of these shoeboxes would end up in the hands of Joana Marchan in Quezon City, Philippines. Joana couldn’t recall what was in the shoebox except for a photo of Tyrel in a cowboy costume with his named signed at the back of the picture.
Joana never forgot that picture and always treasured it and kept the box which “meant so much to her.”
As fate would have it, the two managed to reconnect over a decade later in 2011 when Joana managed to get in touch with Tyrel through Facebook. This shows that social media can, and does, positively connect strangers to each other. But for these two, that initial connection would end up lasting a lifetime.
Joana and Tyrel managed to hit it off immediately online. They had a lot in common, especially their faith and listening to Christian music.
After a year just interacting of Facebook, Tyrel decided that he wanted to take the next step and visit Joana in the Philippines. He spent his own savings to visit Joana for 10 days.
Once they met in person, everything clicked they just knew that they were meant for each other.
Looking back, Joana recalled, “Once I saw his face, an amazing feeling came over me. I was so happy I cried.”
In an interview with Samaritan’s Purse, Tyrel said, “All I knew was Joana was the one.”
Tyrel eventually returned to the Philippines and the couple got married on Oct. 5, 2014.
In a tribute to the shoebox that brought them together, the couple requested their guests to prepare Christmas shoeboxes of their own that they could hand over to Samaritan’s Purse to help other children overseas.
“Operation Christmas Child is what brought Joana and me together, so we wanted to somehow make the project a part of our celebration,” Tyrel explained.
Upon their return to the United States, the newlyweds brought the donations to the Samaritan’s Purse headquarters in North Carolina.
It’s a truly amazing love story and shows that even if you’re half a world apart when you’re destined for someone, life will find a way to make it happen.
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