USA couple on a mission
AFTER a lifetime working and raising children in the United States, Elder ElRay and Sister Deon Hendricks are letting their light shine on Grafton.
The husband and wife pair, who are from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will make the Clarence home for the next 18 months.
Sent to Australia as part of their church’s voluntary missionary program, the Hendricks will be inviting people to ‘come into Christ’ during their time here.
Hailing from Boise, the capital of the mountainous state of Idaho in the USA, the Hendricks have a number of connections to Australia.
Elder Hendricks’ father, Elmer, stayed in Tasmania and Victoria as a young missionary from 1918-1920.
“He came over on a boat – it took three weeks,” he said.
Following in his father’s footsteps – although he travelled via plane – Elder Hendricks also journeyed to Australia as a young man in the 1960s
“I served as a young missionary when I was 19 through to 21,” Elder Hendricks said.
“There were only two missions then – now there are seven.”
This time around, the Hendricks could have been sent to Russia, Columbia, Brazil, Chile or Africa for their service work.
But, as fate would have it, they were chosen for Australia.
“We’re very happy to get to come here,” Sister Hendricks said.
“We love your kangaroos. We’re still excited every time we see one.
“They’re so different to anything we have in America.”
During his working life in Idaho, Elder Hendricks was a vet, owning and running the Hendricks Veterinary Hospital.
“I sold it and retired a couple of years ago, and decided to give back to the Lord,” he said.
Sister Hendricks raised the couple’s six children.
“We believe in family,” she said.
“It’s the best way to raise people up with good values.”
It’s these values the couple will be working to impart on the 140 members of the region’s Mormon church community.
“We feel it’s an important message we have,” Elder Hendricks said.
The pair are also hoping to do community work during their stay.
“The community has already been extra kind and good to us – people are so nice and friendly.”