With just one act of love, a series of events was set in motion which changed both of their lives. This act brought the two of them together in the most exciting way possible, all thanks to a compassionate, selfless gesture, and the incredible powers of social media. Here is their remarkable story…
Just Another Day
18-year-old Idaho teenager, Tyrel Wolfe, was going about his business one day when he suddenly received a friend request from a stranger on Facebook. Anyone who uses the platform knows of the occasional strange friend requests from spammers, which is why Tyrel did not think twice about deleting the request.
In Tyrel’s mind, this was just a random fake account that wanted to spam him in some way or another. It took him no time at all to move on and get on with his day. He never would have guessed that this person was about to change his life.
The request came from a Philippine woman named Joana Marchan, who had never actually met Tyrel in real life. In fact, Tyrel had never even visited Asia before, which is why he quickly removed her friend request. After his quick dismissal of her request, Tyrel decided to do a quick inspection.
He decided to review Joana’s profile and see if it had any veracity behind it. He was surprised to see that she wasn’t even from the United States. While people receive random friend requests on Facebook all the time, something about her just stuck in the young boy’s curious mind.
Tyrel spent his entire life in a small town in Idaho and spent most of his time studying, surfing, and enjoying time with his friends. Whenever he deleted random friend requests on Facebook, he would normally just move on with his life. But this time he felt that something was different.
For some strange reason, Tyrel couldn’t get Joana’s face and profile out of his head. Finally, it seemed like his imagination was ready to let him let go of the girl. That is, until a few days later he received another peculiar request on Facebook which piqued his curiosity.
Something’s Going On
Tyrel was taken aback when he saw that Joana had sent him a friend request again. Why would a stranger send him another request? The girl must have been adamant to get in touch with him, which made him think that perhaps there was something he was missing.
Questions began forming in Tyrel’s mind, as he tried to figure out why an unknown girl from the Philippines would be contacting him on Facebook. The two clearly had nothing in common and lived on completely different continents. He couldn’t help but wonder if he should try contacting her to find out...
Despite not having anything in common or any sort of actual connection, Tyrel could not help but feel drawn to this mysterious stranger online. He was sure that there was no way they had ever met in person and could not figure out why she would not stop sending him friend requests.
Tyrel decided to get to the bottom of this and told his family and friends that he wanted to contact the Filipino woman. Everyone warned him against it, and about the dangers of online strangers, but Tyrel couldn’t help himself. So he decided to send her a message...
Replying to the Mystery Woman
It was clear to Tyrel that there was a certain risk in responding to a stranger online. It could be a man hiding behind a fake Facebook account, or a hacker trying to get a hold of his personal information. Still, curiosity got the best of him and he simply had to know who Joana was.
Tyrel didn’t mince words and got straight to the point. In his message to Joana, he typed: “How do you know me?” and hit send. Tyrel refreshed his feed every few minutes before finally receiving a reply. But nothing could prepare him for what the Filipina girl told him.
Joanna was quick to respond to Tyrel and asked him a question which definitely got him more confused than before. He expected her to either ignore his message or just reply with an awkward excuse. In both cases, he would feel comfortable enough to move on, but this was not the case.
Instead of replying to his question, Joana asked Tyrel if he knew about an organization called Samaritan’s Purse. The teenager had a feeling that the name was very familiar, and thought into his past. After a few moments, many of his childhood memories suddenly came rushing back to him.
Operation Christmas Child
Tyrel recalled being part of a special program back when he was just seven years old. The program was called Operation Christmas Child, and it took up the charitable mission of sending shoeboxes full of gifts to kids who were less fortunate. The operation was run by a non-profit called Samaritan’s Purse.
Tyrel began smiling when fond memories of packing shoeboxes with various amenities began flooding his mind. The kids put everything from small toys to toiletries and even school supplies in these boxes. Still, it wasn’t clear to him why Joana contacted him about something he did as a child.
A Surprising Gift
Tyrel was curious and asked Joana how she knew him from Operation Christmas Child since the kids who volunteered there were all from the United States. Joana then explained that she was the recipient of one of the shoeboxes made by Tyrel more than a decade before. Sure enough, this blew Tyrel's mind.
At first, Tyrel was completely shocked at the idea that this Filipina woman would remember him after more than a decade. For him, this was just a fun activity at the time and didn’t mean very much. While Tyrel was pleasantly surprised by the idea, his family felt otherwise.
Tyrel’s parents, being much older and wiser than the impressionable teenager, warned him that this might very well be a scam. There have been many online predators who connect with people and gain their trust, before deceiving and hurting them in various evil ways. He wouldn’t be the first to fall for such a scam.
Usually, the scammer would wait until their target is in complete trust with them, before asking them for money or important personal information and details. They would then use that information to steal his identity, or much worse. Tyrel’s parents implored their son to test Joana’s claim before proceeding with their exchanges.
A Simple Test
The best test that Tyrel could think of was simply asking Joana to verify the content of the items in the shoebox that was supposedly sent to her more than a decade ago. This was a simple test and would prove conclusively that she was, in fact, the actual recipient.
Tyrel wanted to know if he could trust this Filipina woman, and this was his way of doing that. While Joana could not recall most of the items that were in the shoebox, there was one item that later proved her honesty beyond a doubt. Can you guess what it was?
Not Very Convincing
The answer didn't come right away, though. Tyrel began interrogating the girl, but unfortunately, it seemed that Joana didn’t have all the answers. Honestly, she did not remember almost anything about the shoebox’s contents, which put her entire motives in a big question mark. The teenager wasn’t going to let himself get scammed.
Just when Tyrel was about to give up and move on with his life, Joana recalled one specific item from the box which changed everything. It was a photograph. Little did Joana know that the photograph actually belonged to Tyrel when he was almost 10 years old. He asked her to describe it.
Joana’s description of what she remembered about the photograph in the shoebox made Tyrel both blush and smile. She told him that the photo contained a young and cute smiling cowboy, standing in front of a wooden background. This was the exact picture Tyrel put in the box many years before.
When Tyrel was still a young child, he never actually expected that his shoebox would really reach the other side of the world. All he knew was that the organization had asked him and his friends to pack a few shoeboxes full of stuff. He never gave it any real thought beyond that.
Questioning Her Intentions
Now that Tyrel knew that he could at least trust Joana’s words, there was still the looming question of the girls' intentions. It wasn’t clear to Tyrel why the young woman waited more than a decade to thank him for a gift. Her motives were still unclear, and only time would tell.
Joanna explained that she was very moved by his gesture all those years ago, and wanted to get to know who guy who had sent her that gift back then. Tyrel was quite pleased with her honesty and continued replying to her messages, even after they had said everything they had to say about that old shoebox.
Much in Common
Tyrel and Joanna continued chatting online on a semi-regular basis and eventually found themselves talking almost daily. To their great surprise, the two had a lot more in common than they initially thought. For example, despite being born and raised on opposite sides of the world, they both loved Christian music.
Eventually, they became good friends and would talk daily about their lives, dreams, and challenges. The relationship lasted for almost two years, which completely flew by for them. By now, the teenager was already a high-school graduate. He saw that this was the perfect opportunity to take their relationship one step further.
Making Travel Plans
Even when Tyrel and Joana were still just at the beginning of their Facebook relationship, it was already clear to the teenager that he was going to meet her one day. This motivated him to work harder, and save up his money, something he was not used to doing before.
Now that he was free from his school duties, Tyrel messaged Joana and asked his new friend if he could travel abroad to meet her in person. The Filipina girl was extremely excited and told him to come as soon as he wished. Just days later, he had already bought the tickets.
Daydreaming About the Trip
It's safe to say that traveling from the U.S. to Asia is quite expensive. It took Tyrel months to save up the money for the trip, and he decided to buy a one-way ticket, just to keep his options open. When the day of his flight finally arrived, he was more than excited.
Tyler was due to arrive in Manila, the capital of the Philippines. This was the first time he ever traveled alone, which obviously put him in a very uncomfortable position. His mind raced with many questions and concerns, but the teenager was bravely driven to see this journey through.
The Best Reception
After a 14-hour flight from Idaho to the Philippines, Tyrel finally got his chance to meet Joana. He was introduced to her family, who greeted him with love and warmth. They knew he was the one who sent their daughter the shoebox, and they were very excited to meet him after all this time.
Joana and Tyrel also got along quite well and ended up bonding instantly. In fact, the two got along so well together that they spent many long days, which turned into weeks together. So far, the teenager was more than happy he had bought a one-way ticket.
Staying in the Philippines
Joana and Tyrel had such a great time together that neither of them wanted Tyrel to leave. He stayed as much as he could, but eventually, the teenager’s visa was bound to expire and he would have to leave. This didn’t stop the two from having the time of their lives.
After a month had passed, Tyrel had to return home to Idaho. In those few short weeks, the two had bonded more deeply than in any of their previous friendships. It didn’t take long for their relationship to turn from a friendly and casual one to something much more romantic.
Leaving Back to the U.S.
In just one short month (too short in both of their opinions) Tyrel and Joana had become lovers. The two were deeply connected on so many levels. Unfortunately, though, all good things must come to an end. And this also applied here, as far as Tyrel’s time abroad was concerned.
The two promised each other that they would see each other again, but they knew that being separated inevitably would be no easy task. Joana was all the motivation Tyrel needed to save up more money in preparation to make his return to the Philippines after a few difficult months apart.
Second Visit to the Philippines
Tyrel’s entire life became about saving enough money for a second trip to the Philippines, to return to his sweetheart. The two missed each other terribly and were extremely excited at the prospect of meeting in person again. Finally, Tyrel had saved up enough again to make that happen.
The couple expected their second time together to be even better than the first but had no idea just how great it would be. By that point, the two were completely head over heels for each other. Sadly, the love-struck Tyrel had to return to the United States once again after just one month of reunion.
Third and Final Trip
By the third time Tyrel came back to visit Joana in the Philippines, he had already made two important decisions. The first was that he would learn to speak Tagalog, the native language in the Philippines, and the second was that he would ask Joana’s father permission to marry his daughter.
Joana’s father was more than happy to give his daughter away in marriage to Tyrel. The two formed a strong connection over the loving boyfriend’s two visits, and there was a lot of trust between them. However, there was one very important person who didn’t approve of their marriage yet.
It seemed that the roles had switched as this time it was Joana’s mother who was telling her daughter to watch out for Tyrel and began questioning his intentions. As an American, Joana’s boyfriend wasn’t exactly a familiar face in the Philippines, which is why Joana’s mother did not approve of the match.
Tyrel respected Joana’s mother and didn’t want to go against her in any way. However, he had a strong intuition that there was still something in his power to make her change her mind. Pulling out all the stops, Tyrel convinced his entire family to come overseas to meet Joana’s family.
Bringing the Family Over
Tyrel felt he needed his parents to step in and help him build Joana’s family's trust in him. This was a big thing he was asking of them which is why, despite his shyness, he knew he had to ask his family for their help. He began by asking his dad to accompany him to the Philippines.
Tyrel’s father raised him on deeply Christian family values, and he knew that getting a blessing from Joana’s mother meant everything to his son. The two booked flight tickets and flew to the Philippines. They were about to meet Joana and her family under very unique and memorable circumstances.
Luckily for Tyrel, Joana’s mother trusted his father and eventually agreed to give her blessing to Tyrel and Joana in marriage. The loving couple did not wait a spare moment and proceeded to finalize their wedding plans. Tyrel and Joana got married just a few months later at Tyrel’s parents’ ranch.
They finally tied the knot in a beautiful ceremony in October 2014. As his bride had come from very humble beginnings, the couple chose to go extremely frugal when planning their wedding. The bride wore a $5 wedding gown and Tyrel wore a traditional Filipino garment called a “barong.”
A Charitable Wedding
The loving couple did not want an extravagant wedding and opted instead for an economic one. Joana and Tyrel only needed to have each other and felt more than blessed for their deep love. The couple asked their guests to not bring wedding presents, as they had another idea in mind.
In an ode to the charity that initially brought the two together, Joana and Tyrel asked guests to bring gifts for charity in none other than shoeboxes. They wanted to make this event special not just for them, but also for many other, less fortunate people across the world.
The charity shoeboxes brought to Tyrel and Joana’s weddings were later donated to Operation Christmas Child, the very organization that had caused the original fortunate introduction between the two, to begin with. This was the moment that truly brought the couple's story full circle. They felt both blessed and excited by the event.
After the wedding, the couple drove to their honeymoon in North Carolina. They made sure to spend that time hand-delivering their shoebox gifts along the way. The two did not come out of the wedding empty-handed though, as they also received a special gift in each present.
Recounting in a Note
When Tyrel and Joana look back at their wedding day, one of their proudest moments was asking guests to place a special note in each of their shoeboxes. Inside the note was the story of how the couple had first met and got married, and it was there for a reason.
The note was the couple’s way of inspiring those who give and receive charity. It was intended to show just how many good things can come out of selflessly helping someone in desperate need. Their story eventually reached national exposure when Joana and Tyrel were featured on Fox News.
The two lovers began their lives as a married couple and kept sending shoebox gifts annually to Operation Christmas Child. Joana received her U.S. citizenship and moved to America to live with her husband there. The two decided to live in a small, quiet town, just the way they wanted to.
Joana and Tyrel love hiking together and going on outdoor adventures. Their romance continued to blossom and grew much stronger over the years. Thanks to the husband’s sweet job arrangement, they would often travel across the United States. Fortunately, there still was a beautiful miracle left in the tank.
A few years after the couple got married, Joana became pregnant, and nine months later, she happily gave birth to their first child — Harlann Jun Wolfe. The baby boy was born healthy and strong and is growing by the day. It seems that the two have a lot of luck!
Tyrel and Joana are happily married to this day, and are even more satisfied than before, now that they have a child to share their lives with. They still live in rural Idaho and often enjoy various outdoor adventures. Their story remains an inspiring and uplifting one for everyone.
Christmas Love Story
When Fox News heard about the heartwarming story behind Tyrel and Joana’s love, the media company invited them to tell their tale on air. Thanks to their renewed exposure, millions of people were inspired and motivated to give to charity themselves. Who said TV news is just about negative topics?
The married couple became instant mini celebrities and flocks of people found them online to give them their blessings. Since then, Tyrel and Joana celebrate Christmas as a reminder of their luck and fortune. It is not every day that a shy religious introvert finds the love of his life abroad.
Now that little Harlann Jun Wolfe is a few years old, the family has become active on social media and started sharing images of their life. Joana and Tyrel are very happy together and continue to improve their relationship every year. Distance couldn’t keep them apart, and they are determined that nothing ever will.
Baby Harlann Jun is also a huge source of happiness and pride for the married couple. He has been becoming more beautiful and cute, and more like his parents as time goes by! We hope that Tyrel and Joana are already thinking of a second child in the near future!
Joana claims that her baby is one of her biggest sources of happiness in life. He smiles at her every morning, which starts the young mother’s day with a great attitude. She and Tyrel share that he is growing extremely fast, and it seems like time is just flying by!
Joana promised to try and receive as many baby hugs as she can before Harlann Jun grows into a big boy. She tracks his development with her followers on Instagram and Facebook. There is nothing that makes a new parent happier than seeing their child thrive and live their best life!
Visiting the Family
While the loving couple spends most of their time in Idaho, they do occasionally come to visit Joana’s family on holidays. This picture was taken right before the family went on a trip together to celebrate Joana’s birthday. The young mother’s similarity to her sisters is quite striking!
The family posted an abundance of pictures from the trip on Instagram. Their profile is public for all to see, and is full of everything from beautiful scenery to heartfelt family moments. The family had a fantastic time on the trip and Joana recalls it as her very best birthday celebration ever.
A Bright Future
Best of all, the new family has an extremely bright future ahead and is very happy and fulfilled by all measures. Women often dream about finding a guy who loves them as much as Tyrel is in love with Joana. This is truly a dream come true for both young parents.
The moral of the story is that you simply never know what good things might happen thanks to a loving act of charity! The family plans on sending shoeboxes annually for as long as Operation Christmas Child stays active. We’ll be sure to follow their incredible moments on social media and enjoy seeing their amazing life!