Category Archives: Weather and the Seasons

The End. And Now Our Story Begins…

Beautiful. Awe-inspiring. Wonderful. Great. It’s just a wonderful, beautiful life. You see hard times, you see good times. You see problems and you see blessings. You see failures and you see victories. Even with people, you see their good side and their bad. You see your good qualities and have a gignormous spotlight pointed at all of your shortcomings. I don’t even know what to say about it, to express how I feel and how it was. I’m just very satisfied, really joyful, thankful, content, at peace about it all. It was all really good. And that’s how it should have been. I loved it for the bad times as much as the good times. I learned a lot about balance in life and I feel like I have matured a lot on this trip, become a lot more discerning on this trip, hopefull become wiser on this trip. I didn’t feel like a different person when I arrived, while I was there, when I left, when I arrived again in Tennessee. Same ole’ me. But I do think that I might have learned some stuff and done some good along the way, and that is just so so valuable, my having living for others and for God just made it all so worth it. And as I look at the sky tonight, and see the clouds, I remember the beauty that I witnessed there. And as I spend time with my people here again, I remember the relationships formed and the lives touched, including my own. Because of this trip, I have felt more pain and more joy than I even could have without it: and it was all worth it. And it wasn’t that the joy was worth it because of the pain: both were worth it, in and of themselves. They are both beautiful, in their time. And it’s satisfying because the end is better than the beginning. And it’s full because I not only enjoyed my life, but I also gave of my joy. And it’s purposeful because it is not for me, it’s for others, because it is for God. I’m just really amazed at it all. Thanks Lumos for all of it. It was stupefyingly super-duper.

Well, I suppose that I should tell you how it all ended and how everything went down. There were tears. There were lots of hugs. There were well-wishes and exchanges of contact information. There was closure. And there were a few more events that were out of the ordinary.

The first of which was another camp! Yay camps! This one was with Caminul Felix at Barajul Lesu. I went together with their family and it was a splendid time!


We had the wonderful experience of enjoying Nature’s bounty by picking wild berries every day...




Went on nature hikes...


Saw a local waterfall...


Had campfires every night where we told stories, sang songs, played games and looked at the extremely large number of visible stars...


Ate scrumpdiliumpcious food...



Searched for the local fresh-water lobsters in the streams and swam in the crystal mountain rivers...


Played games with the kids like soccer, volleyball, Frisbee, lacrosse, Catan, chess, and the list goes on...



(The fellas actually really liked chess, which, of course, brought great joy to my heart, hahaha. 🙂 )

And enjoyed the full beauty of my wondrous homeland...




One of the kids had even brought an English assignment that he wanted me to help him with. As a nerd, it touched my heart. As a teacher, it brought me joy. As a mentor, it encouraged me. As a friend, it again touched my heart, because I know why he brought it. It’s in the little things that you sometimes notice a lot. We definitely had a wonderful time together, just being silly and having a lot of fun together, but what I think that I loved the most was the conversations that I was able to have with them, talking about who they are, what is going on in their lives, what happened in their past, and how they see themselves and their future. A lot of these kids don’t really have someone that they open up to, someone who pours into their lives who wants what is best for them. I remember when I first started to open up to people: it was huge. It completely changed the course of my life and brought about several of the most marked changes that have ever happened in my life. To think that I might be able to be that for these kids is just really humbling. It’s kind of interesting and kind of weird at the same time: that with all that I’ve invested, I have no idea what kind or how great of an impact I had on them, and will never know. But hey, that’s relationships. That’s life. And it’s good. But saying goodbye was still really hard.

Here we are all together one last time before I left, right after I gave them their presents.


Whew. Get emotional thinking about it. Huzzah for picture overload! But hey, this is kind of my last post, so why not!

Then I had to say goodbye to my Tileagd kids, which wasn’t any easier at all. But it was a great last session! We sang tons of songs, English and Romanian, I heard each of them play what they had learned on the mandolin, and then I gave them each their presents: tons of candy and gum and books! In fact, I built them a mini-library! So, I looked around the country for good bilingual story books in English and Romanian(really hard to find and really expensive when you do), to help them learn to read better, even if I’m not there, creating a whole system of leveling up in difficulties, using books with tons of pictures, explanations, especially Disney themed ones or classic stories. Not all the children were at that last session, so I organized a way for each of them to get their candy and gum, even if they weren’t there, but with the books, it was a different story. I wanted all of the children to benefit from these books. They were receiving these as a group. And all of the children were totally fine with that. We set up a system of checking the books out and have all of the books in the classroom where we held our lessons every session. As I mentioned, I bought the books in such a way for them to be stories that interested them, both when it comes to age, but also as a progression, that as they read through them, they steadily gain a better understanding of the English language, so much so as to be able to read even at a more advanced level. I gave them the books, and then we had STORY TIME!!!! I love story time! 🙂 I showed them how they could go and work through these together, and helped them read it out loud in English and Romanian, pointing out important concepts, rules of pronunciation, and so on. It was wonderful. We read a couple of them. Then, of course, we went outside and played some soccer, because not-America. It was a great end to a great time.  After that and some other assorted games, it was done. I said my goodbyes and I straddled off to hitchhike my way back to Oradea. Oh yeah, by the way, did I mention that in Romania, hitchhiking is not only legal, but a large portion of the population’s main method of travel (outside of the ole OnFoote)? Yeah. I did it many times. And I didn’t even need a hitchhiker’s thumb. Skill. It was exciting. In fact, some people give hitchhikers rides as a job. That is the extensiveness of this mode of transportation. It’s great. Hitchhiked off into the sunset. Modern Eastern European Western. Yes. Funness is wonderful. But anyways, pictures!!!







(Yep, that road is our soccer field! And we are playing in flip-flops, because the intensity of the champion life is even greater that way.)

And then of course, I can’t forget my last visit to the Charis Center, the ole hallowed home base.

I looked over some of our final work there before I left, and as the grapes began to ripen in the vineyard I said goodbye to my peeps from the hood...


Especially my man Daniel: it was wonderful getting to know him, getting to pour into each other’s lives, working along him, teaching him, and having him teach me. I loved it and I’m going to miss that guy.


I got my certificate from the bossman...


Gave back my borrowed, faithful, tough bicycle which I rode to the Charis Center, 24 km every day that I went there...


I went atop Oradea’s Town Hall to see my city one last time...


I felt with the crying rock...


Said my farewells to the old Tricolor, that great 16th century symbol of republicanism, freedom, and revolution...


The birds were flying overhead as I walked out of the Town Hall...


I left that world behind and set my course for the New World...

Thank you all so much for reading my blog, and thank you Lumos for believing in this vision and helping to make all of this possible.

What else is there to say? The world. But I think that I included most of the major, pertinent highlights.

I did my best. God does the rest.

It’s really wonderful.

That time is done, and a new time has begun.

And it was a beautiful day...

Grace and peace,

Yours truly,

~David Gal-Chiş


Spring Break


Spring is HERE! That may not look like much, but I’ve never been so excited to see a tree budding and blooming. I took this picture today from my living room window, as a celebration of the first day above 65 degrees since October! I figure it was worth remembering.

Admittedly, I’m already getting back into a work schedule again, since I started teaching again last week, and my language course at KIT starts next week, but before I get back into my routine I thought I’d share some of my experiences during my Spring Break. The IGS had vacation from March 18th until April 3rd, so I had a good solid three weeks of vacation. I spent the first week in Karlsruhe participating in KIT’s O-Phase, pretty much an orientation week for new international students. Even though I had already taken a language course at KIT last semester, I decided to go anyway just so I could meet some more people and also to get some more information about the specifics of registering and preparing for classes. I’m interested in that because, since my new living situation provides me with more opportunities to be on campus, I’m going to try taking one class in German this semester. I won’t be getting any credit for it, taking any exams or writing any papers, but I will be trying to do the work and attend lectures regularly, and use the class as another opportunity to practice my German in a more topically-specific, unique situation. Anyway, I learned a few important things during O-Phase, but I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that biggest focus of the week was partying. It felt nice to cut loose again, and I had a lot of fun and met a ton of great people.

Immediately following O-Phase week, I decided that I wanted to travel around for the rest of my Spring Break. Though I initially tried to find a few people to travel with, at least for part of the time, I ended up doing the whole trip on my own. I left in a hurry on the morning of March 25th, and took a train to Munich. At that point, I had a train to Salzburg from Munich and a hostel to stay at in both places, but no further solid plans. It was equal parts exciting and stressful to be heading out without a plan, though I ended up easily deciding on a travel route and finding some good, cheap hostels to stay at. The route I ended up taking was as follows:

From To How long?
Karlsruhe Munich 3 Nights
Munich Salzburg 2 Nights
Salzburg Venice 1 Night
Venice Florence 2 Nights
Florence Rome 3 Nights
Rome Baden-Baden

And yes, I did make an excel sheet to organize the trip. Never did I expect to use skills acquired at my old job to help organize a trip through Germany, Austria, and Italy!

I saw so much and did so much in each city that it would take ages to give them a full description, so hopefully you’ll be sated by a few sentences about each city:


Rathaus in Munich

I had high hopes for Munich, but upon reflection, I think it was my least favorite place during the trip. That said, I still had a really good time, which should really indicated just how much I loved all the other places. Munich is a very modern city, and though it has a few touristy things like Oktoberfest (which of course wasn’t going on in Mid-March) and the Hofbraeuhaus, there isn’t all that much to see. It also snowed the entire 4 days, so that made walking around outside for 6 hour stretches considerably less fun than in, say, Florence (more on that wonderful city later). I think Munich is worth 2 or 3 days, unless you’re visiting during one of the beer festivals.



Just across the Bavarian border to the east in Austria, Salzburg is famous for being Mozart’s birthplace. There are several museums, concert halls, statues, town squares, and even a chocolate called the Mozartkugel, all of which pay tribute to the famous composer. I enjoyed the city of Salzburg much more than Munich, and I can only imagine how beautiful it must be walking along the banks of the Salzach river during spring. Even though it wasn’t quite spring-weather, I still really enjoyed exploring the town, and I almost wish I’d had more time there.


St. Mark's Cathedral


I will admit upfront that my experience of Venice was both too short and ill-fated. I only stayed one night on the island, and I got soaking wet when I arrived, and was cold and uncomfortable for most of the visit. I don’t feel like I can judge this city fairly, so I’ll withhold any criticism. If I could have done this trip again, I probably would have left Venice out, simply because I didn’t have the money to stay in a nice place for 2 days, and because 24 hours was not enough time. Still, it was fun to get lost in the labyrinth-like streets and ride on the rivers connecting the islands.


Florence at Night

This is my favorite city in Europe, and quite possibly the world. I was there for two nights but would have gladly stayed until the end of the summer. I really can’t put my finger on exactly what about the city I loved so much, but I loved it so much I felt intoxicated just walking around the streets. Everything had such a unique look and mood, and it was all so beautiful. Then of course, there’s all the excellent statues and paintings in the various museums and squares around town. The Uffizi Museum is probably one of my favorite museums that I’ve ever visited, as it was big enough to hold a truly amazing and vast collection of sculptures and paintings, but still small enough that you could enjoy and digest everything you saw in one trip. The weather was also amazing, and I had gelato two days in a row. No shame.


Inside St. Peter's

This was my last stop on my trip, and though I really enjoyed the time I spent here, I think I was just getting a bit tired by the last two days. I had been walking 6 hours a day for the last 9 days, and my cash started running low so I stopped eating out, which meant I wasn’t eating enormous Italian meals to replace all the calories I was burning. It seems stupid now in reflection, but you don’t always do everything perfect the first time. Despite my travel-weariness, I managed to see the Colosseum  the Roman Forum, St. Peter’s Cathedral and the Vatican Museum, which was surprisingly excellent. I had expected more of the same Christian art that I’d grown weary of, but the Vatican Museum had a surprisingly diverse collection with some real gems, not least of all The School of Athens (I didn’t even know it was there until I walked into the room where it was!)

After Rome I flew back to an airport near Karlsruhe on my first RyanAir flight (which actually went perfectly fine because I sucked it up and paid for one checked bag ahead of time), and crashed for a weekend. It was a long and exhausting trip, but an awesome experience. I now know not only that I can do solo traveling, but that it can actually be a wonderfully free and enjoyable experience.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I may post a few more pictures here later, but I’ve already uploaded a lot of the best ones to my Facebook, so you can check them out there.

Until later,


A Fair Warning

Real quick, I had to share something I found on the internet that gives some factual substantiation to something I’ve noticed about Germany: while universal healthcare may be a right, sunshine is a privilege. Even though this graphic was created to describe the use of solar power in various countries, it has a secondary effect that I think you’ll notice right away:

That dark purple/blue blotch on the bottom right is Germany. Fortunately, I live in the slightly lighter blue area in the southwest, but the fact remains that only in Seattle and Portland is it anywhere near as dreary. According to the graph at the bottom, even Alaska gets more sun, on average, than Germany! So to those considering moving to, studying in, or working in Germany, consider yourself fairly warned.

Note: click here for a larger-resolution version of the picture above.