October 11, 2021
A child participated in a campaign that supplied less fortunate kids from other countries with gifts for Christmas — he ended up marrying the girl who received his gift.
Tyler was looking forward to Christmas day. It was an exciting day in their household, especially since it meant there would be a lot of goodies being exchanged.
A day to Christmas, he joined his mother in a campaign organized by their church for less fortunate kids from developing countries.
It was called the Operation Christmas Child campaign, and participating was one of the things Tyler enjoyed doing because his mother would often let him decide what he wanted to give away.
That year, it had taken quite a bit of brainstorming on his part to come up with a list of things to donate. First, he considered giving away his old pair of Nike sneakers, but he still felt attached to them, and he did not want to regret his decision to give.
His mother had told him that once a giver regrets his or her decision to give, the blessing attached to the action gets stripped away.
After hours of trying to decide, Tyler thought about school. He was going to the 6th grade when the school resumed, which means he would have a lot of stuff he wouldn't be needing from the previous year. That gave him an idea; he could send his old school stationery as a gift knowing whoever received it would enjoy using them.
He picked out an empty shoebox and stacked it with school supplies like crayons, felt-tip pens, a letter of encouragement, and a photograph of himself. The letter read:
"Hi! How are you? My name is Tyler Stockholm and I'm writing you this letter to tell you about how fun school is. It is a great place to learn and make friends. I'm will be in my 6th grade next year and I can't wait to see my friends and make new ones. I've put in some school materials for you as well so make sure you attend school wherever you are. I hope my gift is useful to you."
Tyler wrapped the box in wrapping paper and handed it over to his parents, who took it to the church, from where, along with other parcels, it was sent to Cambodia.
Tyler quickly forgot about the box as he threw himself into the revelings of Christmas time. Time flew by, until years later when he entered college, he received a friend request on Facebook from a girl named Chia.
He had no idea who she was, so he decided to ignore her friend request. He deleted it but was shocked the following day when he saw another request from her. He deleted that one, too, but the requests did not stop coming. One day, he spoke to his mom about it over the phone.
"Mom, I keep getting a friend request from a strange girl from another country and even though I keep rejecting it, she keeps sending more. What do I do?" Tyler asked.
"Did you go through her profile? Perhaps it's someone you once knew," his mother advised.
"I did look through her profile but she is completely unrecognizable to me. I'm pretty sure I don't know anyone from Cambodia."
"Cambodia?" his mother asked.
"Yes, that's where it says she's from," Tyler answered.
"Remember that box you sent a few years ago?" his mom asked.
"The one I sent just before I entered 6th grade?" he asked in reply.
"Yes. That one. What if the kid you sent it to is the one trying to reach you?"
"There's no way that could be mom, it was so long ago," Tyler said even though his gut told him she was right.
After he ended their call, he logged into his Facebook page and accepted Chia's request. A message from her came an hour later. Tyler read it then sent out a reply.
Those first two messages led to a string of texts between them in the succeeding days. At first, they would chat for a couple of hours per day, but the closer they got, the longer they spent texting each other.
It was in that fashion that they slowly fell in love with one another. Their relationship grew stronger over the years, and at some point, Tyler started envisioning Chia as his future wife.
Three years after they fell in love, Tyler decided to meet Chia. He had graduated from college and secured a job at a factory right away thanks to his great performance.
He traveled to Phnom Penh, where he finally met Chia for the first time. They could hardly stop hugging each other, and after they did, she showed him around Phnom Penh and finally took him home.
He was shocked by her living condition. She had not gone further than high school because she was poor, so she returned to her family house, which was essentially one large room attached to a toilet.
Tyler could not believe how sad things were for the love of his life, and he started thinking about ways to make her life better. The easiest way was to have her live with him, so when he visited her family again, he proposed to her.
Her siblings were overjoyed that Tyler wanted to marry their sister, but her mother was against it.
"Your father would have been against it as well if he was alive to see this," the oldest woman spat at Chia when she asked why she was not in support of the marriage. "They will take you away and turn you to a slave," she insisted.
It took Tyler's father flying over to Cambodia to speak to the woman to convince her that no harm would come to her daughter.
The wedding took place in Nebraska. The groom was dressed in a traditional Cambodian costume while Chia wore a white dress. As a family, the pair continued to participate in the campaign Operation Christmas Child, and so did their kids.
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