Eddings likes making a difference

Published 12:35 am Friday, October 7, 2011

Dana Eddings, 64, is a mission-trips veteran. He has been going on them and leading them since 1993.

He organizes at least one every year, sometimes two or three. Eddings originally started leading trips to Honduras, but he has since started taking them to Nicaragua.

Since he has been leading these trips, Eddings and his teams have lent their aid to a variety of organizations. One of these is House of Hope, a ministry based in Nicaragua and led by Washington native April Havlin. House of Hope brings women out of prostitution, shares the gospel with them and helps them learn trades or find other ways of employment. These are women of all ages, and most were forced into prostitution because of extreme poverty.

Another organization Eddings has worked with is Amigos for Christ. Amigos for Christ has worked to build housing for Nicaraguans who lost homes in Hurricane Mitch in 1998. People were living in municipal trash dumps, collecting recyclables to sell for a dollar a day. The hurricane resulted in billions of dollars in damage to a country already stricken with poverty. The recovery took years, and lingering effects may still be seen in areas today.

Eddings has led medical and construction trips to fit the needs of the areas to which he and his teams visit. He tends to do more construction trips, though, because they have a more lasting and visible effect. With medical trips, it can be hard to tell whether one is making a lasting difference, he said. Giving a person medicine or treatment does not always end the problem, it just alleviates the symptoms of the problem. It cannot change the lifestyles or living conditions that cause the problems, he said.

This is where the construction trips have their advantage, he said. Giving someone Tylenol for back pain resulting from a life of backbreaking work may help him or her feel better for a while, but, eventually, the pills run out. Building houses, school, or medical centers permanently improves the quality of life for those who benefit from such facilities and gives them a chance to better themselves.

Eddings enjoys the trips and plans on continuing them for as long as he can.

“I don’t foresee an end to them,” Eddings said.

He enjoys helping people and feeling like he is making a difference. He enjoys it when young people come on the trips.

“I think it gives them a good perspective on life to have a little time down there with nothing,” he said.

His son, Josh, has been on several mission trips with him. The younger Eddings was inspired to live in Nicaragua for a year, working for a group called Manna Project International.

The elder Eddings has grown close to many people because of the trips.

“The fellowship of people you do it with is huge,” he said.

That fellowship doesn’t just stop with his team members.

“The people down there are so genuinely appreciative of what you do. In some small measure, you become community with them. You find they’re not any different,” he said.

Eddings said it’s good to reflect after a trip is completed and think, “Maybe what we’ve done here is make God smile.”