Bob and Barbara Ericson of Cedar Falls have been going on mission trips to Jamaica for 20 years.
"You fall in love with the people, and I think there's something valuable about consistency and returning to the same place," said Barbara Ericson.
The couple first got involved with the mission trip through Nazareth Lutheran Church in Cedar Falls. The goal of the trip is to serve the medical and spiritual needs of the Jamaican people.
Bob is a minister and Barbara recently retired from nursing. This year's mission trip, which is led by the Ericsons, includes 61 people from 12 states. Most are doctors, nurses, or dentists.
"The Christian life is a life of service, and this is one way health professionals could help other people who are in need," said Barbara Ericson.
Besides offering free medical and dental clinics, the volunteers also do a construction project each year.
"We replaced a roof. Last year we put an addition on a church. This year we're going to move and replace a fence at one of the Catholic schools there," said Barbara Ericson.
Barbara Ericson said many people only know Jamaica as a vacation destination, but there's also poverty a lack of access to medical care.
"Jamaica has socialized medicine, so theoretically the people get free medical care, but the access is not so good. Some people we see walked eight miles to get to the clinic," said Ericson.
After two decades of mission trips, the Ericsons aren't slowing down.
"No, I can't see an end in sight," said Barbara Ericson.
Barbara said now that she's retired her goal would be to go to Jamaica twice a year. She said these trips are a life-changing experience, and she'd encourage everyone to go at least once.
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