Do you remember the first time you came to Discovery? Did you know anyone? Maybe you were a little apprehensive, wondering whether you would be accepted. Did someone welcome you?
Every week new people walk through the doors to join us. Often the first person to speak to them is someone from the greeting team who hands them a service folder. Or, if they have children with them, it may be someone at the children’s sign in table.
Quite often, the person who greets them with a friendly smile is Heather Neal. Heather has volunteered for several years as part of the greeting team and now she welcomes children into Kid’s Kingdom.
For Heather, this way of serving is an expression of the value she places on relationships. She believes that our focus needs to be on walking close to the people around us.
Heather’s caring for those around her started early. She grew up in a close strong faith family and had a brother who had a chromosomal disorder. She says her brother’s struggles had a huge impact on her faith. Her brother died when she was 21 and Heather struggled with why God allows suffering. That was a faith-building time as she came to realize that God is sovereign and He has a reason for everything in our lives.
As she was growing up, Heather thought that she wanted to be an occupational therapist. She has always been interest in serving people. As she went to college God directed her steps and eventually she gravitated to social work.
As she went through college and afterward, her faith continued to grow and she served in a number of ways in the church she was part of. She served an internship at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and knew that was the place she wanted to be. She moved from Olympia, where she grew up, to Tacoma.
Heather still works at Mary Bridge with children and families who are experiencing grief and loss. She feels blessed, knowing that God has called her to minister to the people around her. She says it fills her up.
Two years ago, a new chapter opened in Heather’s life when Melanie came into her home. Heather had thought about adopting a child from the foster care system. She was praying that her home could be a home for someone else as well. She knew from the time she met Melanie that she would like for this child to be part of her life permanently. Her desire for that became reality in May when the adoption was final.
Heather has been at Discovery for about five years. After visiting, she knew this was where she needed to be. She loves that people are real and have drawn around her, especially as she has become a single parent.
As she thought about scripture that is especially meaningful to her, Heather talked about Romans 12:9-21, which gives us instructions on how to treat one another. She uses these verses as a guide in how she responds to people, reminding herself that we can’t fix or band-aid other. We can just walk along side. It is about caring and relationship.
She especially likes verse Romans 12:15: Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
In the future, Heather would like to move more into children’s ministry, but for now she feels called to greet parents and children with a friendly smile on Sunday mornings.
There are many others at Discovery who, like Heather, are using the talents and passions that God has given them to serve. How are you serving?
Maybe you have a friendly smile or a handshake that you can share. If you would like to serve as a greeter, just put a note on your connection card next Sunday and we can give you a turn at being someone who make others feel welcome.