When you do a good deed, you often receive a pat on the back or a thank you with a beautiful smile. Doing good to others is often a reward in itself, but sometimes our generosity comes back to us in a way we never imagined. What would happen if one act of compassion could change our lives and the lives of another person?
When an Idaho teenager remembers an act of kindness he did as a child, it turned his life upside down. In fact, this young man learned that not only had he changed another person’s life with this little act but that his own was about to change in a significant way as well… Here is his incredible story!
1. Social media is an essential part of modern communication.
But when 18-year-old Tyrel Wolfe received an unusual friendship request on Facebook one afternoon, he wasn’t sure what to do with it.
2. The request came from a young Filipino girl named Joana Marchan.
Tyrel was certain that they had never met, let alone in the same country. Believing it was just another scam, Tyrel declined the invitation.
3. Several years passed, and this strange request for a friend became a distant memory.
He was no longer a fan of Facebook, but one day, while checking his profile, he noticed a new request in his inbox. The sender was none other than Joana Marchan!
4. Tyrel’s interest has been piqued.
His parents, suspicious of the type of people found online, were concerned, however, about Joana’s interest in their son. Tyrel couldn’t resist the urge to get to the bottom of this mystery. He opened the friendship request and clicked on “Confirm”.
5. Tyrel sent a message to the young woman.
Her answer only made things even more blurry: “Do you know the Samaritan’s purse?” Tyrel was stunned. What could that mean? Was it some kind of code? Then, all of a sudden, it hit him.
6. Samaritan’s Purse was a non-profit organization.
When Tyrel was 7 years old, he donated a shoebox full of gifts to a charity program called “Operation Christmas Child” through this organization. But why, 11 years later, did this foreigner from the Philippines contact him for Christmas gifts? And, more importantly, how did she know about her donation?
7. Then Joana told him that she was the one who received Tyrel’s shoebox all these years ago!
Tyrel was blown away by the news, but despite everything, he was still skeptical about the young woman’s motivations. After all, how could he know if “Joana” was really who she said she was? He needed proof.
8. So Tyrel asked Joana some questions.
He asked her about the contents of her gift, but she couldn’t remember anything specific about the shoebox. He was ready to remove her from Facebook, but at the last minute, Joana raised a key point that proved that she was telling the truth.
9. In the original shoebox, Tyrel had included a picture of himself at the time of the donation.
Joana remembers the photo in every detail, describing his “cute cowboy” outfit and the “wooden background” of the image. Without a doubt, Joana was exactly who she claimed to be – and Tyrel’s story and it was just beginning.
10. Tyrel and Joana kept in touch.
Tyrel and Joana stayed in touch and quickly discovered that they shared the same interests. Finally, the pair ended up talking to each other every day, and their Facebook discussions quickly turned into a full-fledged friendship.
11. Over the next 18 months, Tyrel started saving in the hope of visiting Joana after high school.
As soon as he reached his goal, he sent a message to Joana and immediately booked the next flight to the Philippines.
12. It is never easy to travel, especially when it is our first trip alone…
Tyrel had never left the country alone before, the 14-hour trip from Idaho to the Philippines was particularly difficult. But no matter how difficult the trip, it was worth it for Tyrel when he arrived to find Joana and her family waiting at the airport to greet him.
13. What was supposed to be a short visit to Tyrel became a one-month stay.
He and Joana discovered that their bond was deeper and more real than they could have imagined. It was clear that their Facebook friendship was becoming something much more important.
14. Unfortunately, Tyrel had to say goodbye to Joana, but he knew in his heart that he couldn’t stay away for long.
By working part-time overtime between university classes, Tyrel found enough money to make another trip to the Philippines.
15. His second trip to see Joana was even better than the first, and it wasn’t long before the two fell in love.
After learning a good amount of Tagalog – the mother tongue of the Philippines – Tyrel approached Joana’s father to ask him for something very important: his daughter’s hand to marry her.
16. Joana’s father accepted without hesitation, but her mother, fearing that the couple would move too quickly, hesitated to give him her blessing.
Tyrel was heartbroken, but the young man did not want to leave the Philippines without the woman he loved by his side.
17. In a final effort, Tyrel convinced his father to come to Idaho to meet Joana and, hopefully, ease the tensions between him and his family.
After several weeks of discussions, Tyrel and his father finally convinced Joana’s mother to accept the proposal.
18. In October 2014, just five months after their engagement, the couple married in a simple ceremony at Tyrel’s parents’ ranch.
Instead of wedding gifts, the newlyweds made an unusual request that closed their unconventional love story.
19. Tyrel and Joana asked each guest to bring a shoebox full of gifts that will be given to no one but Samaritan’s Purse!
They also asked their guests to include a note on the story of Tyrel and Joana in each box to show how a small gesture of kindness can completely change a person’s life.
20. After their marriage, Joana agreed to leave her home in the Philippines and move to the small town of Idaho with Tyrel.
Their peaceful country home quickly filled with little footsteps, as Joana soon gave birth to their first child, a little boy named Harlann Jun Wolfe.
21. Even with lives occupied by working and educating children, Tyrel and Joana continue the tradition of delivering shoe boxes every year.
It may not be much, but as the unlikely couple can attest, you never know what kind of good can’t come from a shoebox.