Because it’s the gift giving season, I wanna tell you a very interesting story who inspired a lot of people around the world in the past few days. Tyrel and Joana grew up thousands of kilometers apart, he in the United States of America, she in the Philippines, and they were brought together thanks to a gift sent trough Samaritan’s Purse, an international humanitarian organization.
Tyrel grew up in Idaho encouraged by his mother to think of others especially in holiday season. All his family was participating in the Samaritan’s Purse initiative Operation Christmas Child, which provides toys and other gifts to children from poor countries. This way he and Joana initially connected at the age of seven and eight years old, respectively, after the boy sent a Christmas shoebox to the little girl in the Philippines.
Joana received Tyrel’s gift when she graduated from Vacation Bible School in Quezon City, in 2000. Although Joana wrote Tyrel a thank you letter, 14 years ago, he never received it. Then, in 2011, Joana decided to try to find him on Facebook. “I still wanted to thank the person who gave me the box that had meant so much to me,” she said to the American press. Joana and Tyrel began chatting regularly via Facebook for one year, almost daily, exchanging photos and ideas between America and Asia.
Tyrel saved money and flew to the Philippines to visit Joana, and they immediately fell in love. “I wanted to spend every moment I could with Joana while I was there, because I didn’t know what would happen next”, said Tyrel according to a story published on Samaritan’s Purse website. “All I knew was Joana was the one.”
The couple married on October 5, 2014, and asked their wedding guests to help pack Operation Christmas Child boxes to send to children overseas.