by Faith Hoyt—
When my twin sister and I were 7 years old, our grandpa gave us a special gift. It wasn’t something we could use right away—we were still quite young. But he knew we’d be old enough eventually, and he saw an opportunity to teach us.
The gift was a workbench. He had built it himself and painted it a bright white. It was a sturdy thing. Hanging from long nails on the back wall of the workbench were two sets of tools. Grandpa had carefully traced around each tool with a black marker to help us remember where they went. (The outlines helped us keep things tidy—not that he was anticipating messes!)
I remember beholding this amazing gift for the first time. I reached up to inspect each treasure: my own hammer, pliers, screwdriver, tape measure, wrench, and hacksaw. The gift came with a few stern words about safety, a gentle smile, and a lesson on how to use the C-clamps he’d secured to each end of the bench.
The workbench sat in our garage for a few years, occasionally getting used when mom or dad was around. When my sister and I were a little older, we started using our tools more often. The freedom to do what we wanted was exhilarating. We started simple at first—nailing together scraps of wood and assembling all manner of castaway materials into treasures. Our tool sets helped us take our forts to the next level. Working at our workbench helped build confidence, sharpen skills, and reinforce lessons (such as how not to use a hacksaw). Cuts and scrapes reminded us that our tools were the real deal and that we’d need to handle them more carefully next time.
Over time our tool sets were used for more practical purposes. Each time I reached for my hammer, I thought about my grandpa and his own workshop on my grandparents’ property in Grass Valley, California. Of all the places my sister and I would explore, the long building with the chicken coop at the end was my favorite. I would wander through his workshop staring wide-eyed at all the marvelously shaped everything’s that filled his workspace. He was a masterful builder, carpenter, and inventor. He was my role model for building good things and taking good care of them. Because of his gift, we had our own workspace and the chance to do what grandpa did.
The only thing that remains of his gift is the workbench, which has since been refinished and repurposed. Also, I’ve held on to most of that wealth of practical knowledge my grandpa willingly imparted to a couple of kids who wanted to learn.
I appreciate so much about this memory. What stands out for me now as an adult is the trust my grandpa (and my parents) gave my sister and me. We were trusted to use our tools safely and wisely. Our workbench and all its accessories were entrusted to our care. It’s an amazing feeling to be trusted—even more so when that trust comes with responsibility.
As a young person in the church, I long to feel that same trust. I want to approach a role knowing there’s someone behind me to guide me, encourage me, and let me grow into it. If I’m lucky, I might just have the chance to build something good—and bless my community in the process.
Faith Hoyt is the assistant editor of the Pacific Union Recorder and a communication specialist with the Communication and Community Engagement Department of the Pacific Union. She is pursuing an MBA at La Sierra University.