Every year, the Operation Christmas Child program helps children in poverty-stricken countries receive a gift for Christmas.
Fourteen years ago, one of these recipients was a young girl in the Philippines named Joana. At the time, Joana was thankful just to get a gift for Christmas. Little did she know that her gift would soon lead her on a winding path to her future husband.
The boy who sent the gift was 7-year-old Tyrel Wolfe. Joana sent a letter back to Wolfe thanking him for the gift, but the letter was never delivered to him. Many years later, Joana was determined to make contact with Wolfe and thank him for his kindness. She took to Facebook in hopes of finding him, and, thanks to Zuckerberg and co., was able to track him down. The two hit it off immediately.
Over the following months, and eventually years, long internet chats between the two blossomed into a romance. Eventually, Wolfe saved up enough money to fly to the Philippines and meet Joana in person.
“Once I saw his face, an amazing feeling came over me,” Joana told Samaritan’s Purse. “I was so happy I cried.”
After 10 days together, Wolfe knew he’d be returning again to propose to Joana. True to his word, he returned soon after and asked Joana to marry him. She said yes. The two were married on October 5, 2014.
Tyrel hopes his future children will one day participate in the Operation Christmas Child program, too. After all, look at the impact it had on his life.
“When we start having children, we want to involve them in packing boxes too,” Tyrel says. “I remember as a little boy, I was so excited to know the toys and other items I put in the box would bring joy to another child somewhere else in the world. I just didn’t know the joy it would bring back to me one day.”