Our Story: Cary & Jenny Hendricks
I love considering how the Lord weaved Cary’s and my story together, using the common thread of LLYC. During our years in the Canyon, He gave both of us a life-changing glimpse into the joy of a life in Him. He planted in us a common purpose and attitude. He captured our hearts for people. And, He shaped each of these things within the culture of LLYC . . . a place and ministry He rooted deep in our hearts.
Our story began almost 20 years ago in 1995.
During the spring semester of my sophomore year at Baylor, some folks came to our Waco YL leader meeting one evening. They were recruiting summer staff for their camp down in the “Texas Hill Country.” Being an Illinois girl, this term meant nothing to me. But, after hearing them talk about “camp,” I somehow felt certain in my heart it was a place I needed to go. And, so, after my sophomore year finished, I made a quick trip home to Illinois, kissed my Dad, and ventured back to Texas to work at this place I had never been to, seen before, or known a single person.
Cary had just finished his freshman year at Austin College (go Roos) and was heading to work at the “camp” he loved . . . it was a place he had spent nearly every summer of his childhood and where he was now serving on staff. A place that introduced him to many of his lifelong friends. And, a place that helped form the foundation of his faith, understanding of community, and heart for ministry.
Driving into the Canyon for the first time ever in May of 1995, my breath was taken away by its beauty, but my 20-year-old self had no idea of the impact God would have on my life and my future through this place.
I’d love to tell you I remember an exact moment that summer when Cary and I locked eyes and met, but I don’t. (He doesn’t either; don’t worry!) What we do both remember of each other that summer is sitting at the Ranch House picnic tables from time to time after dinner talking and making each other laugh, playing volleyball and spades, and appreciating each other’s RoundUp talks.
While we both remember an early, unspoken inkling of always holding each other in just a little higher regard than we held others, there was still time and life God had for each of us before our two paths were to intersect.
So, for two more years, we went back to our different schools, came out to camp to work in the summers, dated other people, and continued growing up, before ever guessing we would one day share a last name and three amazing kids.
Coming into the summer of 1997, I had determinedly sworn off of all dating, and Cary came into that summer with a girlfriend. By this time, we were pretty good friends.
And, God had a plan.
Unbeknownst to us, He was weaving our paths closer and closer together beginning with a particular conversation we had had during Staff Week. I don’t remember the whole conversation, but I remember asking Cary about his plans after graduation. He talked a lot about pursuing ministry. I remember asking him what a life in ministry might look like; what it might entail. I remember as he talked thinking I could really see him doing just that.
And through that conversation, God continued to stir Cary’s heart.
After Staff Week, we didn’t see much of each other, as I was in the kitchen (Work Crew Boss-ing) and Cary was busy in his always favorite reprised role as a Cabin 4 Counselor.
But, at some point in the first half of summer, Cary told me he was leaving camp for a week to take his YL guys up to Frontier, and that he wanted to be sure we had a chance to catch up when he got back. I didn’t think much of it until he got back, brought me a t-shirt from Frontier, and asked if we could hang out on our next day off. Ummm, sure?
So, our day off came and we went into Kerrville for ice cream at this old-fashion soda fountain. As usual, we talked and talked. Then, at some point, he told me he had broken up with his girlfriend. (Oh. Oh?)
After closing down the soda fountain, we made our way back to camp.
We still laugh at how different our thought processes were on that drive back to the Canyon.
I was thinking, “Wow, this was a really fun, soda fountain day off with Cary, but what exactly was it? Was it a date? Was it just friends catching up?”
And, Cary was thinking, “She’s the one.”
So, he spent the second half of summer unabashedly pursuing me, which I cautiously appreciated. (I was definitely not a summer-lovin’ kind of girl, so I was admittedly leery.)
Anyone who knew Cary knew “pursuit” wasn’t his typical behavior; yet it still took me a while to grasp the sincerity, trajectory, or scope of his pursuit. But, then there was always this little voice inside that kept reminding me I had known this guy for a while now. He was a good friend. I had seen his character. And, if there was one quality I could hang my hat on regarding him, it was genuineness (and I always thought he was cute.)
So, late into the summer of 1997, our paths finally intersected, and we began a great journey together.
Though our story was in full swing by this point, our time at LLYC was coming to a close. After spending 13 summers in the Canyon, 1997 was going to be Cary’s last full summer on LLYC staff … or so we thought 😉 I went back one more summer (1998) at EV as the Girls’ Director while Cary headed out East to mark the Appalachian Trail off his bucket list before starting YL staff that Fall.
The following summer (July 3, 1999,) surrounded by our loved ones and lots of LLYC-ers, we got married. You’ll be glad to know that in true LLYC fashion, we closed out our reception to a song neither the DJ or our non-LLLYC wedding goers had ever heard of . . . the one, the only, “Deep in the West.”
In the years that followed, God allowed us a lot of life experience. He gave us time in the South near Cary’s family and time up North near mine. He gave us three beautiful babies. He gave us many amazing and challenging years on Young Life and church staff. He blessed us with rich and deep friendships in each of the places we lived.
And then, after 15 years away, He called us back.
In a sweet but not ever truly surprising turn of events, our journey came full circle. In September of 2013, Cary accepted the position of LLYC Director at Echo Valley.
And so, last summer (2014) we spent our very first summer as a family in the Canyon, walking alongside college kids as they walk alongside high school and middle school kids . . . watching God move in amazing ways just as He did back when we were those college kids almost 20 years ago.
What a joy. What a privilege.
And, hey, it’s good to be back home again.
Yes, it is.