April 2013 Update
Bryan & Kim Gregory (1992)
Dear Prayer Partners,
God has worked in many ways since our last letter the day before returning to Bangladesh in January.
West Hills Baptist Church in Long Island offered again to store our furlough minivan while we are overseas, and delivered us and our luggage to JFK Intl airport. The Lord granted us safe and efficient passage through the chaos we arrived to in Bangladesh. All of our luggage made all of the connections with us, and arrived with no damages. However, we were perplexed and immediately reported it when one foot locker was not present when the luggage belt closed. Within ten minutes Tim saw it moving along on someone’s luggage cart 3 belts away. Immediately, we called out to the airport officials. They intercepted it and returned it to us. Later in the week the national newspaper reported that a crime ring (using an inside man) had been operating within the Intl airport to snag luggage of unsuspecting passengers and sell the contents in the capital. The police traced them to a hotel room that served as their luggage depot and busted them. How thankful we were that our luggage was not among the casualties. The domestic flight we had booked from Dhaka to Coxes Bazar changed their schedule and flew its one flight for the day several hours before our flight from Istanbul, Turkey landed. To add insult to injury a nationwide strike had been called for the day and private cars and buses could not go on the road without fear of being smashed or fire bombed. How thankful we are for foresight of AOB’s Dhaka office manage who sent the office car (that would transport our luggage) to the airport the night before. He was there at the Dhaka airport when we arrived making arrangements to get us on a flight with another carrier and get our previously purchased tickets reimbursed. We arrived safely in Coxes Bazar at a good time and the driver found the roads to be quiet between Malumghat and Coxes so we had a traffic-free ride all the way to our destination. Had we attempted the usual Dhaka to Chittagong train before going to Malumghat we would have missed at least the first day of our triennial Spiritual Life Conference. Instead we arrived the afternoon before, rested a little, and enjoyed the whole conference with the whole team in Malumghat. While there all of our luggage was safely transported to Chittagong by the Dhaka office worker. Nothing was pilfered or broken. PTL!
The nation was shut down again with a 2 day strike after we arrived at our home in Chittagong. This postponed the return to school. Kim, Tim, and Kate finally got back to WCA on Feb 7. We were welcomed back with many smiles and hugs. Kim has enjoyed teaching her elective courses (health, boys cooking, girls cooking, and SAT2 Biology). There is a wonder-ful spirit of teamwork among the faculty and staff. However, due to teacher shortages many are extremely overworked. Due to lack of rest some of our colleagues have been getting sick Please pray for extra strength and endurance to make it to the end of this school year. This shortage will be felt more as some teachers finish their terms and return to the USA. We are in desperate need of teachers to keep the school run-ning in the fall.
God is powerfully answering your prayers! We were concerned with reports that our home of the past 12 years was scheduled to be demolished in the next 3 months for a high rise to be built in its place. Within a week of our arrival in Chittagong we received word that the landlord had begun another building venture and decided to post-pone his plans for our house for a year and a half to 2 years till that one is com-pleted. PTL, we are able to continue to live in this apartment unhindered! The well Bryan drilled is also producing water better than last year!
The first 2 weeks involved making sense of 7 months of spending in Bryan’s 5 NGO budgets so he could submit the new annual budgets. Then he could focus on needed house and car repairs. It took about a month to get all the electrical, telephone, and internet service problems completely worked out.
The Davis College Academic Board respond-ed favorably to our proposal and continued the preliminary process with their accreditation boards. Along the way Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools will send out a team of investiga-tors to evaluate BBCB. In the meanwhile the Davis academic committee is re-searching what their expectations would be for an institutional branch in the developing world. As we evaluate ourselves by those standards BBCB will be able to set target dates for officially going public as an extension site of Davis. Pray for all involved in this process. I was very encouraged by the positive af-firmation regarding the qualifications of the multi-cultural faculty God has been building up here in BD. Keep praying for all involved in this process.
The biggest event affecting the country has been the recent series of war crimes tribunals. As the verdicts of these high profile cases (going back 42 years) are being released political party activists (loyal to their condemned leaders) have gone to the streets in violent protest. Some have at-tacked police to provoke a response they can publicize in criticism against the authori-ties. Meanwhile a mass peaceful movement has arisen to hold the authorities account-able to uphold justice. A political “weapon” often used by protesters is called “hartal” which means “strike.” Those pressing their demands call for a total shut down. Schools, banks, offices, and businesses remain closed for fear of vandalism. In each day of hartal the country loses $200 million in GDP. The recent hartals have been more violent and unpredictable than in previous years. Activists have attacked police, trains, electric substations, barricaded roads, and caused much damage to vehicles both private and public. Since our arrival 8 weeks ago there have been 17 strike days. It’s been challenging for teachers and students when school is only able to meet 2-3 days a week (even with Saturday make-up days). The danger hit close to home as a colleague was travelling back to Chittagong after an unsuccessful attempt to go to Malumghat. Radical activists blocked the road the day before the strike day. The police escort did not prevent his being hit in the head with a broken brick hurled through the window of his car. By God’s grace a doctor was traveling with him and a surgeon in language school provided expert treatment when he got home. The villages around our churches in Banshkali have seen many Hindu homes looted and burned. Since we don’t elabo-rate on political issues we encourage you to view the Bangladeshi news sources in the footer. Relevant searches include “Shabagh movement,” “attacks on minorities,” &“Jamat-shibir violence.” Pray for peace and stability in our beloved Bangladesh. As we follow US embassy advice for hartal days we don’t sense personal danger. Pray for Bengali brothers & sisters who struggle financially and take risks going to work, etc.
Grateful for your prayers,
Bryan, Kim, Tim, and Kate (and Jon too)
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