LOVE IN A SHOEBOX: From Idaho to the Philippines A Christmas Love Story

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Every one of us dream that one day we would end up with the love of our lives, don’t we? To find the one great love we are destined to have and hold. The person we will go home to everyday for the rest of our life. In as much as this is a fact of life, there are some of us, if not all, who have given up on love.

For a simple girl in Manila, Philippines and a cute cowboy in Midvale, Idaho, USA, that love story ordained by God had already transpired. Joana Marchan and Tyrel Wolfe were brought together by fate and united in love by their strong faith in God.

This is a Christmas love story that’s 14 years in the making.

In an interview with Fox9, Tyrel amid his tears said, We just knew that there was no possible way that she could have found me just out of chance. It was just through God that she found me.”  There was no denying the love they felt for each other in the way they looked at one another.

Their love story began when Joana was presented with a Christmas shoebox that was stuffed with goodies all the way from a kid in Idaho, who generously donated it to Samaritan’s Purse when he was around six or seven years old. The boy’s humble intention was only to be able to share his blessings to others.

By the way, for those of you who would like to find out about Samaritan’s Purse, not necessarily to find true love, but to offer gifts of love or care assistance, they are a non-denominational evangelical Christian International Relief Organization, as is described in their official website, located in Boone, North Carolina. They have projects like the shoeboxes of goodies that are being solicited from kids in America and sent to the Philippines and other countries to be given to the less fortunate children.

Joana received the shoebox during her graduation day after the vacation Bible school she attended, summer of 2000. All of the contents of the box were long forgotten but she kept one thing with her. She recalled having kept that photograph of him that he had included in the shoebox, signed at the back with his name and address.

In the photo, Tyrel was dressed in a cowboy get up and happily posing for a shot. That particular photo of Tyrel was what got the two of them connected.

American guy and Filipina Found Love Through Shoebox Gift

Several years later, Joana, in an attempt to express her gratefulness for the gift she had received when she was eight years old, found a way to get in touch with him via the social media, through a Facebook friend request. Tyrel was eighteen at that time when she found him online.

She said in the interview that that shoebox had a huge impact in her life and her family, which was why she had every intention to find him and thank him.

She had to validate her story to him and his parents, when she was asked how she knew him. She reminded him of the shoebox that he sent through Samaritan’s Purse and a clear description of the photo of Tyrel that came with it.

That confirmation created a wonderful friendship between Joana and Tyrel that eventually bloomed into romance. They kept in touch constantly for about a year and a half by way of sending each other private messages that got more personal as time went by. After a considerable amount of time, Tyrel was able to save enough for a plane ticket to Manila to meet Joana and her family.

The couple shared how they were both glad of that first meeting. He said that his heart beat faster and faster as the plane got closer to the destination. She said that she was nervous about meeting him for the first time. But the couple were undeniably very happy about finally getting to see each other and be together.

He recounted memorably how after seeing her and her big beautiful smile, he asked God if this was a dream.

Tyrel came back to visit her in the Philippines twice more the year after. He knew in his heart he had to go back and see her, and in that next year that he returned to her, he had asked Joana’s father for her hand in marriage, in her native language.

The exact words he said to Joana’s father were, “Papayag po ba kayo pakasalan ko ang iyong anak na si Joana?” which means in English, as translated by Joana in the interview, “Could I have your permission to marry your daughter Joana?”

Five months after that, the couple got married in October 2014 at Tyrel’s childhood home, in his parents’ backyard. She was stunning in the five-dollar wedding dress they bought at the thrift store, whereas he was dressed traditionally in a Filipino barong. It was a humble wedding for a humble couple.

idaho christmas love story miracle in a shoebox

What they had asked for their wedding gifts were shoeboxes that were filled with treats that the couple personally delivered to Samaritan’s Purse after their wedding. It was like paying forward for the goodness that the same charity had given them both.

Tyrel said about their love story, Without God in the picture it is a fairy tale, but with God in the story it is a beautiful love story. It’s a love story that actually happened.

Watch the video of the FOX interview with the couple:

The greatest story of love that was ever told was born on Christmas Day. When God brought His Son into this world, it was to teach us the essence of true love and that love never fails. God is Love.


For many this is quite an inspiring love story to tell, but for those who have somehow lost faith in the power of love, this story can be life changing. Share this story to everyone you know, in the hopes of rekindling our inner fire for love, and so that we can all marvel and continue to love and be loved.


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