Generation Gap: Raymond Mendoza

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Editor’s Note: The Perry County News is publishing a series of interviews conducted by eighth-graders in Joyce Stath’s English class at Tell City Junior-Senior High School. The interviews are of people one or two generations older than students. Today’s column is by Corrie Kimbril, who profiles her grandfather, Raymond Mendoza.

My grandfather, Raymond Mendoza, is an extraordinary person. He has many stories to tell and lessons to teach. One can learn a lot from his life, and he has a lot of thought-provoking advice. Everyone should have a chance to hear about his life and take what he learned, and put it in his or her own life.

Raymond was born April 23, 1949 and lived in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. He immigrated to the United States with his mother and brother when he was 6. He had this story to share: When he was on the train coming to America, he wore a Davy Crockett coon cap.

As he looked out the window, his hat blew off his head. He could not stop the train, so he has not had a coon cap since.

Ray devoted his life to the Lord, and became a Christian when he was 30. If he could change one thing in his life, he would have come to the Lord sooner. He would have gone to church at an earlier age, so he could be rooted and grounded in his younger years. He is now a devoted Christian and he goes to church at Agape in Cannelton.

Ray has had a variety of jobs over the years. He worked in retail management for 14 years. After that, he worked in restaurant management for 21 years and for a church for seven years. Now he works part time at Camp Rudolph and is also a cashier at Tractor Supply Co.

Ray wishes teens today could realize the importance of faith, so they don’t have regrets later in life. In his opinion, teens were more respectful of adults and were harder workers in his generation than they are now. He also believes people had higher morals back then.

An example of how teens are different can be found in role models. Raymond’s role model was a fireman who had accepted Christ at a young age. He did not have to go through a lot of hard times. Ray sometimes wishes he would have accepted Christ at a young age too, so he would not have had to go through so many difficult times.

The fireman was Ray’s role model, but what are current teens’ role models like? After asking some teens who their role models were, I received answers including their mothers and fathers, Derek Jeter, Tim Tebow and David Draiman.
Another way to tell the difference between the youth of Ray’s day and the youth of today is by looking at their favorite authors and novels. Ray’s favorite author is Charles Swindoll. Ray said, “He does not compromise in where he stands with God. He tells it like it is.”

Some favorite authors of today’s teens include Darren Shan, Christopher Paolini, Jack Kilborn and Dave Pelzer.

Ray’s favorite book is the Bible.

Teens seem to like books like “The Saga of Darren Shan,” “Inheritance Cycle: and “Afraid,” none of which are faith based. Ray thinks society has changed since he was a teen.  He thinks it is harder for young people because there are a lot more problems and pressure. We have more temptations with drugs and alcohol, for starters.  The Internet can have its perks, but it can also be used for harm.  When Ray was young, people would get into fights; someone might bring a knife, but it was not a guarantee. Now if there is a fight, people have to worry about guns too.

Ray said the most exciting thing he has ever done is accept the Lord as his savior.  The pastor touched his head as he prayed.  He said it was amazing because as they were praying, he fell backwards on his back.
I find it interesting that he cared so much about this, that he would call it the most exciting thing that ever happened to him.

I was asked to include some of his advice for teens in this article. He said we shouldn’t compromise our values; do what’s right.  Be kind, help people, especially people less fortunate than we are. He wants us to have dreams and expectations.  Finally, his last words of advice are to share the good news of the Bible.

From my grandfather, I learned a lot. Throughout the years, he has told me so many stories, I could not begin to write about all of them. His life experiences can be interpreted in different ways, depending on who is learning about them and their unique lives, but I hope everyone learns something from them.  I would have to say, my grandfather taught me to stay true to myself and not let anyone shake my beliefs.