** The Salt Shaker **
Monday - November 23, 2015
Greetings to all our friends & family
(Since we're getting accustomed to the south - Greetings to all y'all)
Praises - safe travel here, Satsuma oranges, God's abundant provision,
accepted house sale offer, the "light" and encouragement we were able
to be in song and testimony, teaching and learning from camp leaders'
testimonies, songs and devotions each workday, and faithful Christians
Prayers - safe
travel for everyone on the roads this week, smooth closing on house
sale, continued computer work and web updating, place to park
(12/18-1/06) and music ministry opportunities while in the Phoenix
Our last week in
was spent working with another volunteer group known as RVICS (Roving
Volunteers in Christ's Service).
Normally SOWERs have a free week in between projects, but the
RVICS were staying on so we pitched in to work with them since we
arrived late. Connie and
the ladies worked helping the camp
Director with mailings, trail markers, and making bean bags.
John and the men cleaned and painted the Adventure Camp
cafeteria kitchen. It
rained most of the week :(
We left on Friday (10/30) heading
southwest through rolling hills to our camp/conference center project
near the town of Eunice
in south central Louisiana.
We spent one night at Camp Wal-Mart along the way where we
realized the water pump and refrigerator wasn't working (after buying
ice cream). As our lights
got dimmer in the camper we knew it had to be the battery.
We stopped at an RV center on the way and put in a new one,
just before it started to rain.
The next four hours were spent driving in mostly heavy rain
with poor visibility, but God was with us - the rain let up just as we
arrived and didn't start back up until after the essentials were
setup, then poured again for most of the night.
After attending church on Sunday, the
camp director bought all 6 SOWERs lunch at a local Cajun cafe.
Work started Monday morning after breakfast provided by the
camp. Again, God is good -
all our meals this week could be eaten at the camp because they were
feeding up to 60 volunteer Campers on Mission
people. The ladies worked
with the other ladies cleaning the lodge, conference room, kitchen,
chapel, and library. The
SOWERs ladies also worked on a mailing.
The guys cut custom moldings for an entryway and patched some
drywall in the conference room from a leak.
For the next two weeks the guys set some new porch posts on a
cabin and remodeled four of the lodge rooms with plaster repair,
paint, and new crown moldings that really brightened them up.
John also cleaned up and
adjusted a big professional table saw that the center had recently
acquired (fun, fun!). The
ladies continued cleaning - all 32 lodge rooms with Liquid Gold on the
woodwork and bathroom cabinets, washing windows including the track
and screens, and air conditioner vents/shields.
The camp has a nice baby grand piano
(Baldwin) in one corner of the dining
hall and Connie was told she could play it whenever she wanted.
So, there have been several hours of free time along with the
songs at morning devotions with her at the piano.
The Campers on Mission saw our Salty Strings vans graphics
and asked us to play for their Wednesday evening prayer service.
Several camp staffers who attend the nearby Pilgrim
talked to their pastor and we were invited us to do some special music
Sunday morning and a mini-concert Sunday evening.
We were treated to lunch after the morning service and a
surprise love offering in the evening.
God's provision has been made evident through his faithful
servants at this camp in so many ways!
We also were privileged to play at a local care facility where
the residents seemed to be deeply touched by several songs and were
very appreciative of all we did.
We know God was present as we selected the songs.
Overall we've had about as many
cloudy-rainy-dreary days as nice days so the trailer gets rather
small. We've also had
fluctuating temperatures - we'll run the heater at night for several
days then turn on the air conditioning for a few days!
We've even fired up our furnace a few times to take off the
chill in the morning (reached 31 last night and we don't have much for
insulation). We've been
able to take several bike rides, mostly around the lodge since there
isn't much of a shoulder on the "hard" road and the side roads are
gravel. There are huge
mosquitoes so we keep moving during our evening walks, greatly needed
with all the food we've been eating!
We don't need really need our alarm clocks - we have a deranged
rooster challenged with the time change, squirrels that we have seen
chew off the acorns that fall on our roof (usually about 6 am), and a
We spent our first Saturday going to
three museums (in the rain) in nearby Eunice.
We learned of the Acadian heritage of this area (Cajun is slang
for Acadian); heard local Cajun music (actually Zydeco style) with
fiddle, triangle, guitar, and diatonic accordion (buttons that are two
different pitches based on the bellows being pulled or pushed);
watched a cooking demonstration (too spicy for Connie); and toured an
instrument museum. This
area was French catholic originally with Spanish and German influence
as well. Sadly the
original French language is disappearing even though the song lyrics
are in Cajun French.
We went with our SOWERs on a field
trip to Avery Island
(although it is surrounded by water, kind of like a moat, and higher
in elevation than the surrounding land it isn't an island as we
expected). This is where
all Tabasco sauce(s) are made.
We toured the factory (for free) and sampled flavors (including
ice cream, Coke, mustard, and mayo).
The original owners (late 1800's to early 1900's) were "eco
friendly" and dug lagoons and ponds for alligators, worked with
horticulture, created an aviary to save dwindling egrets, and made a
wonderful "jungle garden" on part of the island.
We took our bikes along hoping to ride around the 2.5 by 3 mile
island town, but it is all private land so we were content to ride
around (and up and down the hills) the 3 miles of garden roads.
There were several spots where there were trails that we walked
with multiple varieties of palm trees, camellias in bloom, and mixed
varieties of bamboo as well.
We passed lots of sugar cane fields in various stages of growth
and harvest along the drive and saw smoke from the burning of one
Photos of work in progress and completed entry at the Conference
The SOWERs were invited to a free
supper at Kelly's Landing, a wonderful place full of toy tractors
(mostly John Deere) and all size tractor related collectibles,
that serves authentic south
home cooked meals. Kelly
has used his property, tractor collecting, and years of farming
experience to become a tourist attraction for many groups after
loosing most of his eyesight to macular degeneration.
Area RV parks will schedule tours and meals and there are Amish
groups that return each year.
He does the cooking, as do many of the men around this area,
and the story telling for groups of up to 50 people.
We had gumbo with chicken and sausage (again, too spicy for
Connie) served with rice, potato salad and crackers (always served
with gumbo), and dessert.
The farming here is rice one year then rotated with soy beans,
cattle, or crawfish - very interesting as they harvest the rice with a
combine, spray and plant with airplanes, and use boats to harvest the
crawfish. We actually ate
there again at the invite of another group - Kelly is very generous
and appreciative of volunteer workers.
Our "home" in Louisiana
We took a day to ourselves stopping
at 2 music stores (Mouton's Accordions did not have any accordions!),
the rice museum with a history of Crowley Louisiana, and a trip to
Lake Charles where we were able to ride our bikes along the lake front
promenade as well as through many streets of the Charpentier
(Carpenter) District of historic homes (built around the turn of the
century by carpenter architects) complete with mixed styles, leaded
glass, turrets, towers, etc.
A wonderful mix of beautiful homes many now used as lawyer
We will be traveling this week and on
Thanksgiving day to Phoenix, Arizona
for our next project. We
are looking forward to how God will use us in this new experience at a
Christian school as well as spending some time with our son Aaron who
lives in Phoenix.
Until next time, thanks for being a
part of our travels! May
you be blessed these coming weeks.
John and Connie Nicholas, Salty Strings Music Ministry
Phone - John 909-336-8910 - Connie 909-336-8912
Email - SaltyStrings@hotmail.com
Web - SaltyStrings.com
John & Connie Nicholas ~ Salty Strings Music Ministry
1658 Milwaukee Ave #100-9861
Chicago, IL 60647
(This is a mail service - we will receive our mail monthly so
there may be delays)