This couple’s beautiful love story compels us to believe in destiny. What else could it be that united these two people together, who were initially separated by thousands of miles?
The United States is 8,222 miles (13,232 km) apart from the Philippines, but serendipity brought Tyrel Wolfe from Idaho and Joana Marchan from Quezon City together.
In 2000, when Tyrel Wolfe was a 7-year-old kid, he sent shoeboxes filled with school supplies, toiletries, and small toys as a Christmas gift to children in various countries through the international humanitarian organization Samaritan’s Purse.
Tyrel’s Christmas shoebox, filled with supplies, together with a photo of himself in cowboy gear, landed in the hands of 8-year-old Joana Marchan at a Vacation Bible School graduation ceremony in Quezon City, Philippines, among the billions of people in this world!
Joana sent Tyrel a thank you note, but somehow, the note never reached him. Even after more than a decade, she had not forgotten the cowboy Tyrel Wolfe, as the box “meant so much to her.”
Then in 2009, Joana located “Tyrel Wolfe” on Facebook and sent him a friend request. Not knowing who she was, Tyrel ignored the request.
Finally, in 2011, a mysterious force united these two strangers. Tyrel responded when Joana sent him a friend request again. Joana told Tyrel about the shoebox gift. However, Tyrel had forgotten about it until he asked his mother, who reminded him of the charitable activity he participated in more than a decade ago.
Like long-lost friends, Joana and Tyrel “clicked” upon their first correspondence. They shared many common interests, such as listening to Christian music and their religious faith.
Joana and Tyrel interacted with each other via Facebook for a year before they decided to meet in person. In May 2013, Tyrel made a trip to the Philippines—specifically Quezon City in Manila—for 10 days, using his savings, to pay Joana a visit.
“I knew I was taking a big risk,” Tyrel told People. “I had never traveled alone, let alone to a foreign country before and I was meeting people I didn’t know or even knew really existed.”
But it was all worth it. The moment they met each other in real life, they felt destined to be together and fell in love right away. “Once I saw his face, an amazing feeling came over me,” Joana told Samaritan’s Purse. “I was so happy I cried.”
“All I knew was Joana was the one,” Tyrel said.
And soon, Tyrel returned to the Philippines twice, asking Joana’s parents for her hand in marriage. The two finally pledged sacred, lifetime marriage vows on Oct. 5, 2014.
Knowing the strong and powerful effect of giving, after experiencing it themselves, they requested their guests to pack Christmas boxes to give to Samaritan’s Purse for 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 said.
In May 2017, the couple received another blessing in their life—their first son came into the world!
Who would have believed a Christmas gift would be the start of a beautiful love story? Somewhere, there is a divine matchmaker who brings two people together.
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