A Love Story that Will Make You Believe in Love Again

As Valentines Day closes in, we’re all bombarded by love. It feels like it’s in every shop, window, or social media post. Not only are we constantly reminded of how much we all want love, but also how it might have betrayed us in the past. 

We have literally every reason to question love: couples reminding us just how single we are, memories of heartbreak, or a holiday hijacked by businesses pressuring us to prove our love. But fear not: if you’re feeling jaded and hopeless about love, here’s the most insane and unlikely love story that, 100% guaranteed, will make you believe in love again!

John and Elsa both longed for a love they doubted would ever happen. The two came from completely different worlds. Elsa grew up in Mexico, praying and hoping for a husband. Meanwhile, John was struggling with childhood demons that sent him spiralling into homelessness: an alcoholic father, unstable home life, and a 40-year battle with addiction that began at just 10 years old.

As John struggled to survive under a bridge, love was the last thing on his mind.

Although miles apart, things were about to change! Desperate and on death’s doorstep, John sought help at Union Gospel Mission, unaware he was about to be completely blindsided in more ways than one. After graduating from UGM’s recovery program, he started working at the charity, where he excelled at helping others. 

His story was so inspiring that he even became the poster-boy of the organization, featured on billboards and bus stop ads promoting transformational life-change at UGM! Even still, at 49 years old, he had given up on love. 

Halfway around the world, Elsa was still holding out for a handsome, romantic husband at the age of 37. She moved to Vancouver to learn English, all the while hoping for Mr. Right.  

As fate would have it, John and Elsa’s ‘meet-cute’ happened straight out of a good rom-com: While innocently walking to the bus, Elsa was struck by a bus stop ad that immediately caught her eye: John’s face smiling back at her! 

She was instantly drawn to this handsome stranger, and although she assumed he was just a model, wondered if she’d ever meet him. She had no clue that John had actually gone through UGM’s recovery program, but his suave smile stayed with her as she started volunteering there, hoping she might catch a glimpse. 

Then one day it happened. To Elsa’s surprised delight, there he was one Saturday morning standing right in front of her! This time, she noticed more than his good looks: “The most important thing was…he went to talk to the homeless and he hugged them and I thought ‘oh, he loves people.’” The two became friends and sparks began to fly. 

On their first date, Elsa told John she was still waiting for a husband. John remembers that moment clear as day: he reached for her hand and “that was it. The lights got bright and I started sweating. Her eyes were just sparking like diamonds.” 

After months of dating, what was once unthinkable unfolded. Elsa and John got married surrounded by their friends, family and UGM family. The perfect ending that neither had ever dared hope for. 

Now, 7 years later, they have a message for you this Valentine’s Day: “There’s hope after 50, there’s hope after any bad relationship. Just don’t give up – there’s someone for everyone. Love overrules everything!” #couplegoals

Today, the happy couple are more in love now than ever before! Elsa gushes that John “doesn’t wait until Valentine’s Day to be romantic. That’s what I love about him. I’ll come home some days and there will be a rose sitting on the table with a card saying how much he loves me.” 

And because of all the struggles he’s been through, John can truly appreciate his love with Elsa today: “I feel blessed every day that I get to spend with my wife and that UGM brought us together. It’s a real love relationship!” 

Their struggles inspire them to support each other and give back with the love they share: staying connected at UGM, reaching out to homeless veterans, and even starting a homeless shelter together in Mexico! 

So if this insanely-cute love story full of heart-eyes at every turn doesn’t inspire you to believe in love again, nothing will! Love can find you in the most surprising places – even a homeless shelter or bus ad. 

So this Valentine’s Day, be on the lookout for love to find you. It might show up in the most unexpected way. 

Subscribe to our email list to get updates about other guests and volunteers like John & Elsa in our inspiring UGM community.

Written By: Rachael Allen