Tyrel Wolfe was 7-years-old when he first made contact the love of his life and the woman he would marry. He just didn’t know it yet and he wouldn’t make contact for another 13 years.
The Idaho boy and his parents packed up a shoebox of Christmas gifts for children in the Philippines as a part of Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan’s Purse.
They stuffed the box with school supplies, toiletries, and small toys. But Tyrel also snuck in a photo of himself in his cowboy gear.
He had forgotten all about that shoe box until 2009 when he got a friend request from a girl named Joana Marchan from the Philippines. He didn’t know who she was so he ignored it for two years until she messaged him again.
This time he was curious and responded asking how Joana knew him.
She explained how she received his shoebox and told him how much it meant to her and how she kept the photo of the “cute cowboy” all these years.
Tyrel’s mother confirmed that he did indeed send the box. The two ended up communicating almost every day for the next year and a half and found out that they had a lot in common. They were both going to college and liked to listen to Christian music.
After graduating high school, Tyrel saved up enough money to visit Joana in her hometown.
He was scared traveling into the unknown to meet people he didn’t know in a foreign country, but that all melted away when he laid eyes on Joana.
“My heart started beating faster as I got closer and closer to the destination. I was really nervous. I saw her big beautiful smile stand out in the crowd and my biggest question was, ‘Was this a dream?’ At this point, we just knew there was no possible way she could have just found me out of chance. It was through God that she found me,” he said tearing up and smiling at Joana in an interview with Idaho On Your Side.
He came back twice more to visit Joana. The second time he asked her father for his permission to marry her in his native tongue.
The couple married in Tyrel’s father’s backyard. Joana wore a $5 dress from the thrift store and Tyrel wore a traditional Philipines barong.
At their wedding in Oct. 2014, they asked guests for filled shoe boxes to send to others in need.
They even drove those boxes all away to the North Carolina collection center.
“Without God in the picture, it is a fairytale,” Tyrel said. “But with God in the story, it is a beautiful love story. It’s a love story that actually happened.”
Tyrel and Joana welcomed their first child, a baby boy, in May. You can watch them retell their beautiful love story below.
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