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** The Salt Shaker  **

Monday - October 19, 2015

 Finally on our first project!  After getting permission to arrive late along with lots of encouragement from our Group Leader, we left Weldon at 1:51 pm on Thursday October 15 saying "Goodbye" to our home.  The last 3 weeks were filled with emptying the house, repairs (with the help of a wonderful contractor), and cleaning.  It is truly amazing how much two people can accumulate in a few years along with all the dirt/dust that gathers in the corners!!  The house was officially listed on October 13 however the rooms were not completely empty or cleaned for photos until the 14th, so we were still behind on our time projections.  It was weeks of going through lots of memories and decisions - what to take, what to leave, and how would we dispose of our things.  We took many van loads to local organizations and are so thankful to have places like Encore, Lighthouse, and Habitat for Humanity that willingly take donations.  We were also blessed to have a local gentleman remind us he had asked to go through our miscellaneous wood from the shop when we finished packing.  He and a friend arrived and cleaned out just about everything - we are sure they were sent by God so we would be free from having to load it all up and find a place to take it.  After the first load, he returned several more times, even taking our final trash bag before we left.

 We had been sleeping in our trailer for a week (since our bed sold) and finally started the actual loading and packing on Wednesday.  Connie carefully weighed each bundle and tried to keep track of the weight in each area of the trailer - a daunting task with mixed results.  Thankfully there were only a few miscellaneous boxes at the very end (some of which we still have to sort through).  Once hooked up and ready to roll we were thankful to be "level" so our weighing and planning paid off.  It was truly amazing to finally drive off - amidst a few tears knowing all we possessed was in the van and trailer - but very uplifting at the same time.  Our new ministry has begun.

 We travelled 656 miles in two days.  Two days of many "firsts" - some which went well, some were definitely learning experiences.  Gas pumps - John was driving and we now know where to go for easiest service.  Going through Nashville had Connie (the busy city driver) a little worried - a first for her and for John as he drove through Nashville!  Our first "off grid" overnight at Walmart - we parked about 7:30 pm with one semi and two other campers very spread out.  Noise continued until at least 2 am and started again about 5:30 am (or Connie finally slept soundly enough to not hear vehicles coming and going).  We awoke to several semi's and campers.  Day two of driving started at 6:15 am and we arrived about 5 pm in Alabama.

Saturday was spent reading through several manuals to figure out what we were doing wrong.  Our refrigerator didn't keep running on gas while we were traveling - had Connie put on her glasses and realized the second light read "Check" not electric we may have consulted the manual a day sooner!.  The problem solved itself (likely air in the line) once we started the furnace (another first).  Connie made John a wonderful fried ham, egg, and toast breakfast Saturday morning - another first - we used the stove (and it's been a long time since Connie actually made/served breakfast to John).  Our electric heater keeps up with the night temperatures fairly well, although it is quite chilly in the trailer in the mornings.  We still have some things to sort through but have been, amazingly, able to find most everything.  Another first - John plucked a bit on his guitar this afternoon gaining some sore fingers after a month of not playing anything.

 We attended a Southern Baptist church this morning with a wonderful Sunday School time (Genesis 12 - Abram being called by God to leave his "comfort" and follow to unknown places) and message from Acts 13:1-3 about serving, being called by the Spirit, and being sent out by the church.  Our thanks to Lane Christian Church for supporting us in prayer, kindnesses, and encouragement and for sending us out as described in Acts 13:3.  The church is closed next Sunday as there will be "policemen with guns" not allowing traffic to get to the church due to the Talladega races.  (The raceway holds 150,000 - we were warned to stay off the roads and get groceries/supplies before Thursday.)

 Praises - safe travel, gas under $2/gallon, beautiful surroundings and weather, offer received already for our house, Pastors and their families.

 Prayers - renovation of two lodges to be complete by Friday when guests arrive, choosing a church for next Sunday, working with our host on projects next week (SOWERs ends on Thursday but we want to work an additional week since we were so late arriving). 

 Saturday, October 24, 2015

 Our first week of working has ended and we have said goodbyes to our other SOWERs.  John's week included repairing carpet at bathroom doorways, installing cement board, trim work, setting toilets in 16 bathrooms, and installing smoke alarms in numerous hotel rooms at the conference center.  Connie's week included folding laundry (sheets, blankets, towels) and washing chairs and tables in the Adventure Camp dining hall (where we ate our lunches along with youth from a Christian school on a retreat.  We were blessed to have received several free lunches and are enjoying the beautiful woodlands and hills here in the Appalachian foothills.

 Praises - the guys (5 total) made their deadline on lodge renovations!

 We have been working on our "mailing" lists and social media skills for future updates.  Finally, ready for the first "mailing" and trusting all will go well.  We are mailing 6 letters along with numerous emails.  Please let us know if you don't want to receive future updates, you have a different address you would like us to use, or you know of others that would like to be included. 

 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

 PS  We have tried to include some photos.  We will find a way to post more photos somewhere - our computer IT person (Connie) has been able to get the computers talking with each other somewhat and both printers communicating with the computers, but it is a slow process.  Suggestions are welcome!

Contact Information:

            Phone - John 909-336-8910 - Connie 909-336-8912

            Email - SaltyStrings@hotmail.com     Web - SaltyStrings.com

            Mailing Address:        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)

 

   
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