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And He [the LORD] said, "My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest." Then he [Moses] said to Him, "If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. - Exodus 33:14-15
 

It was May of 1977 when a second boy was born to Jan and Renata Chmiel in Trinec, an industrial city in the northern part of the Czech Republic (Czechoslovakia at that time). They named him Tomasz (Thomas in English). Tomasz grew up in a loving Christian family, went to a Polish elementary school, studied at a Czech high school, and graduated from a college of tourism. Besides all these studies, Tomasz was also active in his home congregation and was one of the Youth leaders. In 1999, Tomasz believed he was supposed to come to Minnesota and study at a small Bible School in the Minneapolis area. Tomasz enjoyed his junior year, served on a summer team in 2000, came back for his senior year, was able to go to Europe with his Bible School choir (see picture) and served on a summer team again. Even though Tomasz had other plans, God brought him back to Bible School for his third there.

 

Four months after baby Tomasz was born in Trinec, the oldest child of Tomas and Blanka Novotny was born in Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic. Her parents named her Miriam. Miriam's dad was still in seminary when Miriam was born. After Miriam's dad graduated from seminary, the whole family moved to Plzen (a city in western part of Czechoslovakia) and later to Ostrava (an industrial city close to the Polish border). After graduating from high school, Miriam enrolled in the University of Ostrava and five years later graduated majoring in English and Christian Education. Miriam hoped to continue with her studies at Wheaton College, but God directed her steps otherwise and brought her to AFLBS instead (AFLBS = Association Free Lutheran Bible School). Miriam started Bible School in September 2001.

 

AFLBS was the same Bible School Tomasz graduated from just couple months before Miriam came to the United States. At same time when Miriam started her first year at Bible School, Tomasz started his third year of Bible School called the MTI (Ministry Training Institute). Tomasz and Miriam became good friends right from the very first time they met. After a semester that they both spent at Bible School, Tomasz left for Russia where he did a semester of internship. After MTI, Tomasz started the Association Free Theological Seminary which shares the same campus with the Bible School. Tomasz was a first-year student at the seminary and Miriam was a senior at the Bible School. Tomasz and Miriam's friendship had its ups and downs but they were still "just" friends. After this year, Miriam planned to go home permanently, but again, God had other plans. It was already the summer after Miriam's graduation when she was asked to come back to be one of the Bible School Dorm Assistants and at the same time be an MTI student. It was a hard and confusing decision, but everything happed that way and Miriam came back to Bible School in the fall of 2003.

The following year, Tomasz and Miriam's friendship grew deeper and closer on one hand, but on the other hand it was getting more and more confusing. But by God's mercy and with the help of some people God used amidst all this, Tomasz and Miriam got "officially" together in May 2004. The next school year, God provided for Miriam an opportunity to do a year of so called optional practical training on the Bible School campus while Tomasz is finishing his last year of seminary.

 

Tomasz and Miriam got engaged in October 2004 and got married on May 28, 2005.

So this is our story... :) If we were to summarize it in one sentence, we would have to say it is a story of God's faithfulness. Looking back we see how perfectly God guided us through everything that happened in our pasts and how much God has blessed us with. Now we are privileged to serve together as a team. We are missionaries serving in Ukraine, working with youth and training youth leaders in the city of L'viv, in Western Ukraine. We have two daughters: Hannah born in May 2009 and Kristina born in December 2011.