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It Started with a Shoe Box

Leslie Brown

Years ago I sent a shoebox to a soldier. I don’t even remember what I put in it, but here’s what I do remember.

I remember thinking, someone I don’t know, is going to open this box, and at that moment, we will be connected. They will be touching and handling the items I selected for them; the items I touched, and they will know they were thought of, even though I didn’t know who they were. It’s a powerful moment.

Samaritan’s Purse is located in North Carolina. The organization prepares thousands of shoe-box gifts to be delivered across the globe to children for Christmas.

Fourteen years ago, a young Filipino girl received a gift box during her attendance at Vacation Bible School. Joana wrote to the little blonde boy whose picture was in the box, but somehow he never received the letter. “I still wanted to thank the person who gave me the box that had meant so much to me.” Years later, Joana tried to find him on Facebook.

Thus began their Facebook friendship and an exchange of letters and pictures over the next year. The more they corresponded, the more Tyrel and Joana found they had in common. They were both passionate about music—albeit different styles—and both sing and play at least one musical instrument. And Joana had always dreamed of a quiet life in the country.

Despite the 15-hour time difference, they set aside time in the morning and again at night for daily Facebook visits. But if their relationship was to progress, they needed to see each other in person.

After a couple of over-seas visits, and Tyrel asking Joana’s father for her hand in marriage, the couple married this October. Their request of wedding gifts? Shoebox gifts, of which as a couple they will deliver in person to Samaritan’s Purse to bring this journey full-circle. Congratulations!

To read more about this story, click below:

shoe box

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