So You’re Thinking About Need-Greating

“And Jehovah said to Abram: “Go out from your land and away from your relatives and from the house of your father to the land that I will show you.” – Genesis 12:1

Hello Dear Reader and welcome back to the blog!

Here in lies a little collection of tips and tricks that I have read, experienced, or learned from others on how to need-great. I have often meditated on the example of Abraham, and Sarah, and how they were the first true need-greaters in the Bible. What they did, was SO unusual for their time. Their relatives truly must have thought they had lost it, leaving behind a beautiful home with potential indoor plumbing (another huge plus at that time!) to go and live in tents, wandering like fugitives. The unknown was truly unknown for them, having no predecessors with experience to guide them in such an endeavor, or even the Watchtower Online Library with it’s plethora of articles, and information to help make safe, and informed decisions. That bold move they made was so remarkable, and adventurous, but not without challenges! I wonder sometimes if their great-grandson Joseph thought about them when he was a slave/prisoner in Egypt, also living day-to-day in much of the unknown.

Abraham and Sarah’s story is a powerful testimony of how Jehovah was always with them in the unknown. Examples such as these have both inspired and fortified my desire to need-great. For years growing up, I would read the Yearbooks, and find the experiences of the missionaries just fascinating! I couldn’t believe the places they were willing to go, and the things they were willing to do! They would move so far away, not learning the language until they arrived, facing disease, persecution, and all sorts of things, but their joy was abundantly clear through the passages I read. Then in August 2011 a Kingdom Ministry article came out entitled: Can You “Step Over Into Macedonia”? This article absolutely lit up my heart’s desire to travel and need-great to another country, but how? I was only 19, and no one I knew personally in my area of Massachusetts had tried something like that.

I prayed, and spoke with some of the brothers and sisters in my congregation, and one couple recommended Lisbon, Portugal to me. They knew very well an American sister and her Portuguese husband there, and said it was very safe, and would be a wonderful experience. I will always thank them for that. I saved up what I could, and went about doing the paperwork to acquire a visa to move in August 2012. I’m pretty sure everyone in my congregation thought I was crazy to do this, but I was very determined. I even used to waitress at the Cheesecake Factory, and when I told one of my older colleagues my plan he said: ‘Why don’t you try moving out on your own in Massachusetts first? That’s a big step to take all by yourself.’ Nonetheless, I wanted to have a first-hand experience of seeing Jehovah’s hand in my life in a very real, and personal way, as well as prove to myself that I had made the Truth my own, and that my relationship with Jehovah was not based solely on good upbringing from my parents.


I was young, and very naive, but I had faith in Jehovah from the experiences I read that he would help me in this endeavor. And he certainly did!!! Four years passed with numerous wonderful experiences as well as friendships formed that I have to this day. In 2016, I moved back to the U.S. from Lisbon as I felt that I had accomplished what I initially set out to do, and was ready for something different to try. That’s also something I noticed in the Yearbooks, every 5-10 years missionaries would receive a change in assignment or move to another part of the world, and have more experiences. I liked that!

Those two years I was home were good as I got to reconnect with my family, and old friends again, and learn more so how to be patient, and content. Then in July 2018 my next adventure began when I married Karim, and moved to Egypt. We thought about the pros and cons of where to start our married life, and it seemed to us both that Egypt would initially be best. Getting married, and moving country is not for the faint of heart, but it was still a wonderful experience all the same. I got to see Jehovah’s hand once again in my life in a very special way.

I am writing this article because a friend recently asked me for some tips about need-greating, and writing her back inspired this blog post. This is meant to help, and encourage you if you’re considering need-greating to another country, or if you know someone who is. Of course, do more research, and pray about it constantly. I know Jehovah will help you in your adventures too. Here is a small list to either get you going, or add to your research.

1. Flexibility & Open Mindedness

Whatever amount of flexibility that you have now, work on increasing it in the time up to your move. This tip may be leaning towards moving to another country, but it also applies to moving within the same country as areas within the same country can differ drastically depending on the weather, and whether it’s city living or country living. If you’re the kind of person who has very strong personal preferences or ways of doing things that you feel are the “right way” try to see the WHY behind what other people do. For example, I always felt the houses in Egypt were kept too dark with all the curtains closed, but after years of baking in the sun, I realized that those very curtains kept the house reasonably cool during daylight hours when the heat was at it’s peak. Coupled with this, I might add that humility will help you to not view your culture/ upbringing as superior, and to avoid making comparisons, especially out loud as the brothers and sisters you will meet may also have never traveled outside their country.

2. Having a Well-Balanced Spiritual Routine

A spiritual routine is key for any person to succeed in anything they do. And with the challenges you will face in the new country/area, it will bring any and all weaknesses you have to the forefront of your consciousness, the day to day testing your patience and endurance, not to mention being completely out of your comfort zone. Prayer and Bible reading will keep you a happy person to be around, and meetings and ministry will reinforce your sense of belonging and friendship.

َ3. Get Frequent Rest & Take Vacations

In this category I would add that need-greaters tend to take on more responsibilities in the new place they move to as many keep secular work to a minimum or don’t work at all for certain months of the year. This added load can very easily and very quickly lead to burn-out. Really work at prioritizing rest and relaxation in your weekly schedule. Sometime this takes tremendous self-control, but this will allow you to continue joyfully in your assignment, and to make a real difference to the congregation you move to. Nobody will put that time aside for you, it has to be you. Try to have one full day off in the week, not for errands, but for fun. Go to that coffee shop, read that book, visit that castle, go for a walk in nature, whatever refreshes you, do that. And if you are able, try to go away to somewhere you find refreshing every 3-4 months for a few days to un-plug, un-wind. If you are in a congregation with tremendous, overwhelming need, try your best to LEAVE the country for a few days, every few months for ultimate rejuvenation of spirit.

“Better is a handful of rest than two handfuls of hard work and chasing after the wind.” – Ecclesiastes 4:6

4. Make Your New Home Truly Yours

From experience, don’t be shy about bringing things/ mementos that you love to the new area that you move. Many will not ask you as much as you might like about your life/ experiences prior to moving there, and you can feel in a way like you are forgetting yourself, as you have up-rooted yourself from the friends and family who know you well. Bring those things that remind you of who you are, and where you come from that will make you happy in your new home be it simple or elaborate. Pictures, books, little decorations, cards, whatever you like; have a little supply of things you know that you can look at that will make you happy on the hard days.

5.Quickly Integrate Yourself Into the Congregation

You might think, ‘doesn’t that go without saying?’ Yes, and no depending on your personality. It’s always a good idea to take the initiative to make service arrangements, and initiate out-goings/ hospitality. That’s not to say the brothers and sisters will not be happy you are there or to have you, but they might be shy about meeting new people, or it might be a high-traffic congregation where many need-greaters come and go. In that case, your taking the initiative will help you make friends faster, and start building your own little community there.

6. For Poorer and Warmer Environments

Many times need greating involves going to a warmer climate, and a weaker economy (which can be a huge plus +). For those warmer climates if you can adjust your service schedule to go out after 4 when the sun isn’t so hot, it will be easier to stay out longer. Showers will be your absolute best friend, often I would shower before, and after going in service. That way you feel clean, and like your home is your haven from all the sensory overload outside.

7. A Note About Eating Out

If you’ve traveled before, you’ve probably heard about staying away from fresh vegetables while eating out, and not drinking tap water. I would add to that to purposely look for restaurants/ cafes that cater to tourists as the food tends to be cleaner. Deeply fried food is often a safe bet if it doesn’t bother you. If you get food poisoning, please go to the hospital. They can give you an IV drip or immediate injection of fluids, and medicine that will stop the stomach spasms, and allow you to move on much faster than if you try to tough it out. I have had gastritis countless times, and having a hospital nearby was a real comfort to me. As well if you buy fresh vegetables, soaking them in a dilution of white vinegar for 15 minutes is always a good idea.

8. Bring Your Favorite Skincare/Haircare/ Make up Products

The new place you are moving to might have some of the things you like or they might not or they might be incredibly overpriced. As a rule of thumb, I always brought extras of my favorite products being the sunscreen queen that I am. There is nothing more frustrating than not having access to something that you would normally be able to buy.

9. Earplugs go a long way!

If you’re moving to a busy city, it can be a great idea to bring some re-usable ear plugs. That way if you have very noisy neighbours who like to party at night, you will still be able to have a decent night’s sleep. Bringing these has the added benefit that if you’re walking outside in deep, and heavy traffic, wearing them can help cut back on noise pollution considerably.

10. The Importance of Clean Water

If you’re moving to a country where it’s known that people get sick from the water, it’s a wonderful idea to install a several step water filter into your sink. Have someone come, and change the filters every 3-4 weeks, and you’ll be able to use that as drinking water. A shower filter is also a great idea if you are worried about too much hair loss, but do your research about the area you are moving to!

11. Ask for Help with Brothers and Sisters

Have no qualms whatsoever about asking the local brothers and sisters where the best deals are. They’ve lived there their whole lives, and they know where you can get the best bang for your buck. They can find you the highest quality, for the best price. Even better if they can come with you, and show you where to shop! In every country there are always “touristy” areas to buy things, and the places the locals go. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

12. Have Fun!

Remember, very few decisions are absolutely permanent. Moving/need-greating/ assignments, they can always be temporary, and change! Don’t be afraid to try something new, and dislike it, that’s why you tried it after all! Likely though, even if you need-great for 2 months or 6 months, you will have wonderful memories to take away from it! The point of doing this is to grow in your relationship with Jehovah, and strengthen your faith. Stretching yourself out of your comfort zone to any degree will help you do just that!

I hope this little list has been somewhat insightful for you. Fellow need-greaters, I’m sure there are many things I missed, please mention down below what has helped YOU to need-great.

Have a beautiful day!



8 thoughts on “So You’re Thinking About Need-Greating”

  1. Thank you for this most encouraging article on “need-greating”! I too was affected by that article in the KM in 2011 which got me started in foreign language (Hindi) – though I have yet to make it to India which is my absolute dream place to serve as a need greater. I am much older so my start was much later in life.

    I have had the privilege of serving as a need greater in Myanmar & Thailand! I have seen Jehovahs hand in each experience & am excited to see where he guides me to next!

    I pray for you both to experience continued joy in your ministry; and anyone else with the desire to do more for our magnificent God, please make it a matter of prayer & take the steps to do just that. You will not regret it!

    1. Hello! Thank you for your lovely message and for sharing your experience here! I also learned Hindi some time ago, and I love that you learned too! And served in Myanmar and Thailand. I’m sure you have some amazing stories from that. Thank you for all your kind wishes and I also wish you joy in your ministry and that you get a lot more stories to come! <3

  2. Gamila,
    Another fantastic blog! If I was young again, it would certainly inspire me to need-great 🙂 I hope many will read this and take it to heart. Time passes quickly and we find ourselves looking back, wishing we had done things. I love your approach – plan, trust in Jehovah, and JUST TRY IT! May Jehovah continue to bless you!

    1. Hi Karie! Thanks a lot for leaving a comment here. It’s so wonderful to know that we will live forever and have endless opportunities to do more! There will be so many projects, and different kinds of assignments to come, I bet you will be the first to sign up! Jehovah’s blessings on your lovely spirit <3

  3. Hi Gamila – I loved your experiences and tips.

    I had the privilege to serve in Croatia for 3 months. Two of the best things for me was having everything downloaded on my laptop, as I didn’t bring my English Bible with me. And, I brought several of my favorite dvd movies. That touch of familiarity got me through a few rough moments.

    The other thing I really prayed about was making sure that I nothing to enhance the American stereotypes. That we’re loud, rude & self-centered. I went out of my way to give gifts to the local friends. I cooked, bought groceries, insisted on paying my way. I also accepted hospitality but in wanted to be balanced. As friends we give to one another.

    It was the best 3 months of my life and I experienced Jehovah in a while new way.

    I’ll read more of your blog. It’s inspiring that maybe I can do it again.

    ~Donna C

    1. Hi Donna! Wow I’ve always wanted to go to Croatia! Karim and I have tried several times, but it never seemed to work out. I’m so so happy that you have had that experience and that it really shaped you! I like how out of your way you went to be kind to everyone there! You have the spirit, I’m sure you will know when is the right time for you to do it again <3 Jehovah's blessings on your endeavors!

  4. Gamila, this was a typical, heart-warming and incredibly helpful blog! Thank you! I hope that it inspires many brothers and sisters to reach out and personally experience Jehovah’s love and support for them.
    What a privilege you have to live where Abraham, Joseph and Moses once lived! (Genesis 12:14-20) (Do you know that the Bible compares Egypt to “the garden of Jehovah”? – Genesis 13:10)

    In the future, could you blog about tips for learning a new language (especially one that looks completely different when written)?

    1. Hi Linda! Thank you for sharing those points about Egypt! I did not recall that verse in Genesis 13:10! Thank you I might use that in the future! It’s so funny you mention that about learning a foreign language, Karim was just suggesting that! I will brainstorm and see what I can come up with 🙂 lots of love to you! <3

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