Dave met with Eyassu Ato for the second time in February 2011. Eyassu is the owner of the Paradise Lodge in Arba Minch, Ethiopia. Dave had dinner with Eyassu and two other men — the senior judge in the Gamo region and the head of the Ethiopian Department of Trade and Industry. These men gathered to prepare for their meeting with the president of Chiquita Bananas. Eyassu wanted to discuss better living conditions for local farmers and people of the area.
In January, Eyassu told Dave the religious leaders in Arba Minch were happy to meet a “man of peace who is willing to listen to their concerns.” High praise from this powerful man and the local religious leaders in his community.
On Dave’s second trip in February, Eyassu presented him with scarves for our daughters and sons-in-law and a bedspread for Vicki. These items would cost $4.20 each in U.S. currency for the scarves and $20 for the bedspread. Eyassu is hoping to start a store in Washington, DC to sell similar items from the Gamo region. “They were nice and thoughtful gifts,” Dave said.
Eyassu also asked Dave to pray with the 13 regional government leaders and local community leaders on his next trip to the region. “When I asked him why, he said many Ethiopians think Americans are godless, but my praying for them would change their opinion,” Dave said. Dave , although honored, had concerns he might offend the local religious leaders, who may not be afforded the same privilege.
He heard Dave praying for the people of Ethiopia during the Christmas service he led in January. He said he felt Dave could show the real values of the United States as opposed to what the Ethiopians saw on television. Dave could help change public opinion about the United States.
Unfortunately, Dave never made it back to Arba Minch to pray with the government and community leaders. Another chaplain trained to visit that location. “My boss and I felt my time and money would be better spent on more strategic missions,” Dave said.
“It surprised me how God used me to touch this man, an obvious mover and shaker in the region. I was humbled, and a little anxious of the potential if I returned,” Dave said.
“I liked, admired and respected Eyassu. His goal was to improve the living conditions and economy in that part of Ethiopia.”