The Salt Shaker – July 2018

Our July Update        (Published Tuesday, August 28, 2018)     

Prayers – For cooler weather – as we write this we are doing physically demanding work with very hot & humid weather!

 Praises – We’ve been able to see God’s Spirit at work through our music ministry; passed the one-year mark from John’s cornea tear eye injury and all is well

Greetings to all:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.       Colossians 3:15-16

Our “month of music” started back in March and April with John making calls and contacts in northwest Wisconsin.  God blessed us with multiple engagements and still had a few surprises as the month progressed.  Our home base was a wonderful camp outside Fairchild, WI.   Little Creek Camp was recently purchased by a family with 3 boys who actually had “chores” (anyone remember what they are?) around the camp.  One area was permanent trailers for seasonal use, mostly weekend visits with grandchildren.  One of the boys would drive the lawn mower with a series of 5-gallon drums that had been made into “cars” with various themes, giving the kids a ride around the camp.  Our area had a few long-term line workers as residents and lots of weekenders.  Most visitors had 4-wheelers but the camp rules were followed and there was very little noise and partying.  It was a 1-mile walk going a figure-8 route around the camp, so we had lots of exercise, including bicycling on the back roads and with walking on the “hard road” several times.  Overall the weather was very hot, much more than we thought northwest Wisconsin would be!  Our trailer was in full sun so we used lots of electricity to keep cool inside.

Our scheduled music engagements included four coffeehouses and one church service.  Our first Saturday afternoon in the area we were in Eau Claire at the first coffeehouse (Gospel Christian Coffeehouse).  Although there were very few people we were able to chat with a few and pray for their outreach ministry mostly to meth addicts.  The following week we were in Chippewa Falls at a long-established ministry (Barnabas House) on Saturday evening.  There were more people and we were able to be a special blessing to some with the songs we choose to play.  The third week was a long drive north to Rice Lake for a Saturday evening at a ministry currently run by the founder of Barnabas House (Lighthouse Christian Center).  Not very many people but we were able to chat and pray with the founder, recovering from a fall from a ladder, and his wife.  The fourth week found us back on Saturday night at Barnabas House with a larger group of listeners.  The owner there joined us with some harmonica and whistles and a percussion wood “slinky” thing! Then Sunday morning was our church service at Osseo Community Church.  They became our home church family for our stay and we got quite attached to these people (Sunday potluck following the services helped).  We planned songs and scriptures to reinforce the pastor’s messages from Ephesians 5.  02 Osseo ServiceOf course, Sunday service plans are often interrupted, with our glitch being the power point (words to songs to sing along with) quitting in the early part of the service.  People sang along to what they remembered and we still had a great service as we encouraged and challenged the congregation.

Obviously, we did a lot of practicing, building up those callouses, and discovered we know more songs than we thought!  With only a couple duplicates of songs on different instruments we were able to fill about 7 hours of music including old hymns, original songs, instrumentals, and other Christian music.  Tuning was a bigger problem as the coffeehouses were not very well air conditioned and the weather hot and muggy.  One week we would be tuning down (everything had gone sharp from the humidity), the next week would go the other way.  A few things, especially our drum, did not work at all or would change through the programs.

We had some time to spend riding our bicycles and traveling.  The first road trip was to Black River Falls where they have a wonderful 4.1-mile loop around a part of the city.  A few sections were city streets, but most of it was asphalt paved, winding up and down 03 Merrillanhills and around curves.  We followed the Black River a bit, went by parks, a golf course and hospital, and a smaller stream flowing into the Black River.  We met our daughter Valerie in Tomah for dinner and grocery shopping before going home that day.  There was a beautiful dam and waterfall in Merrillan (an old mill pond dam on Hall’s Creek) along the way. 

We contemplated a trip to the Mall of America in Minneapolis, but decided it was too far away and too expensive to do any of the things we thought would be interesting.  We settled for a day in New Richmond where John graduated from high school.  Our first

stop was at the Chamber of Commerce to get information about bike routes and to use the restroom.  As we waited we noticed a summer music series and asked some questions.  The next thing we know we were hired for a Sunday afternoon concert to end their “Fun Days” weekend celebration.  We biked around the town, Connie getting a glimpse into the “teenage John” she never met.  As with all things, time changes the buildings and perceptions.  We then crossed the St. Croix river into Minnesota to walk around Stillwater and climb all the steps up the hillside.  It was a wonderful day and a much unexpected blessing to have another music ministry opportunity.

Other free time was spent with a campfire and working on arranging a song John wrote 18 years ago!  It turned out well with the hammer dulcimer and guitar.  John spent a lot of time buffing out the finish on the trailer, and also some time carving on his pocket tray (for those things men must carry in their pockets and put somewhere at night).  Connie installed two of three aluminum mini-blinds to our dining room windows; the old ones had broken and she had been waiting patiently for almost two months to find the time and space to get them replaced.

We were pushed to our limits at times with all the programs and practice.  Our last week of music was one of those times.  We had the Saturday night coffeehouse (home at 11:15 pm) followed by Sunday morning service (up at 6:30 am), a quick lunch at the church with a 2-hour drive to New Richmond for their concert.  It was hot and humid both days (everyone knows how much Connie loves heat and humidity!).  We got set up with our sound system cranked up as high as it would go to carry sound through a huge outdoor tent, played for 90 minutes, packed up, and headed home (with a stop at Denny’s for dinner and another stop at the end of the drive for DQ dessert).  God is faithful and supplied us the strength and stamina to do more than we could have on our own!

Tuesday, July 24, we were packed up, on our way west across Wisconsin to our resting place in Kewaunee.  Shortly before leaving our printer quit yet again, and we made the decision for the make and model to replace it.  A quick trip was made to Eau Claire with no success.  After getting set up we met our oldest son Aaron and he took us back about 30 minutes into Green Bay where we enjoyed supper and picked up a printer.  On Wednesday we drove north to Sturgeon Bay to meet him and traveled through Door County taking the ferry to Washington Island and another small ferry to Rock Island.  We docked at Thordarson’s blue limestone boathouse finished in 1929 and were able to go into the great room upstairs where some really fancy gatherings were held.  We then

proceeded to hike around the island, stopping at the north end to climb the lighthouse.  It truly was a hike, up and down hills, gravel and sand paths, and roots and rocky paths.  What a wonderful chance to view untouched land, gorgeous views of Green Bay, sandy and rocky beaches, and climb the steep steps to the top of the lighthouse.  Although there is now a solar energy panel, you can still see the bent wood fence around the garden.  Multiple families would live in the home with wood stoves in most rooms.  We caught the

last ferry from Rock Island and returned back to the mainland tired and hungry.  Our dinner was at Al’s Swedish Restaurant in Egg Harbor, one of the tourist attractions, where the goats eat the grass on the roofs of the buildings.  The goats were in for the night and a storm was headed our way as we ate and watched the clouds getting darker and closer.  We opted for some extra time at our son’s hotel and soaked in the hot tub (which helped our sore hiking muscles) before driving back to our trailer in the rain, thunder, and lightening.

Thursday morning found us packing up and heading north to our August project at Lake Lundgren Bible Camp outside of Pembine, Wisconsin.  Within 3 days we had passed through or saw signs directing us to:  Poland, Denmark, Alaska, Luxemburg, and Norway.  What a wonderful state Wisconsin is!13 WI Roadside

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.  Colossians 3:17

 Until next time, thanks for being a part of our adventures!


Thank you for your continued prayers and support!

John and Connie Nicholas, Salty Strings Music Ministry

Contact Information: Phone – John 909-336-8910 or Connie 909-336-8912 
Email:    Facebook:  Salty Strings Music Ministry

More information and our update blog:

ONLINE DONATIONS via PayPal through our web site

MAIL ADDRESS: John & Connie Nicholas,  Salty Strings Music Ministry
255 N Sperry Street, Bushnell, IL  61422


  • September – Camp Michindoh, south central Michigan,
  • October – Potomac Park, Falling Waters, West Virginia; upper northeast
  • November – Boys and Girls Home of NC, Lake Waccama, North Carolina; southeast
  • December/January/February – Tentative – northern Florida
  • March – Tentative – Acadian Baptist Center, Eunice, Lousiana
  • April – Tentative – Northeast Texas

The Salt Shaker – June 2018

Published Wednesday July 18, 2018 – Our June Update

Greetings to all:01 Turtle

How do you explain, how do you describe,
a love that goes from east to west
and runs as deep as it is wide?
You know all our hopes, You know all our fears
And words cannot express the way we feel,
but we long for You to hear
(From the song “Listen to our Hearts” by Geoff Moore)

In the same way, the spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the spirit, because the spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.                                                  Romans 8:26-27

Prayers – Continued strength for the ministry God has for us wherever we are; boldness to share the gospel; that we make the most of every opportunity placed before us, whether working with our hands or playing music; and that we always demonstrate the love of Christ for others to see.

 Praises – God has blessed us with multiple music engagements in July and August; able to work without back brace, continued strengthening of John’s lower back. 

We arrived at Timber-Lee Ministries outside of East Troy, Wisconsin on Friday, May 25.  It was great to be back here seeing some old friends, but different since we’ve always been here at the end of camp season and in the early fall.

02 Sandhill craneWildlife wasn’t as plentiful (possibly because the apples are not ripe for the deer), but we did have goslings with protective parents wandering all around, snapping turtles, a Sandhill crane in our backyard, deer in the field, and a nesting hawk along the path we walked to work (as well as warning signs that we might be attacked).

Our first week the guys built two tent decks in one area of the trailer/tent camp for training the kids going to Adventure camps.  They will use these staging areas to learn how to set up their tent before leaving “civilization.”  The remaining weeks included some remodeling in a dorm-type house for summer staff.  The kitchen/dining subfloor was done as well as minor fixes to vents, handrails, paint, door stops, fixing a broken chair, and moving bunk beds out and beds in.  John also helped the summer staff make an easel from scrap wood and delivered fans to the cabins.

The ladies started with cleaning the bakery shelves and machines, repaired the cord to the bread roller, and cleaned oodles of chairs from three dining areas before advancing to sorting the labels for the food lines and pulling the labels needed for four lines, each meal, each day, for the upcoming camp menus.  There was also kitchen prep work, pre-cleaning pans for the dish washer, and break down of boxes and tin cans.

The side legs finally broke off of our black metal “Welcome” sign leaving a very unstable rod to push into the ground.  After a few months of non-use, we designed a holder made of scrap wood, spent a few hours in their shop building it, and it works great!  (You never know what will happen transferring head plans to reality!)  We are now able to put up our wind sock, to judge speed and direction for our awning, and wind chimes which Connie loves to hear.

Our music ministry provided music for a Sunday service at Jefferson Prairie Church, just south of the state line in Illinois.  It was a great service with some fellowship time following.  We then went to brunch and spent most of the afternoon with Connie’s best friend from high school.  It was wonderful to have an afternoon doing nothing but enjoying friends, conversation, sunshine, a wonderful breeze, dogs, cats, miniature horses, and country air.

We went to the local Drive-In (Gus’s) twice this year.  For some reason we had not visited it before, but they have great food and are known for their ice cream.  The first time was mid-week where our purchase went to help the camp.  Then we heard they have car shows every Saturday so we went with our other SOWER couple to see the cars.  We also had to visit our favorite 2-for-1 Monday night special pizza place and spent several hours visiting with 3 other SOWER couples as we enjoyed our pizzas.

Connie spent a lot of time on the road driving between the camp and Beloit (about 45 minutes each way) and long days to help get her Mom into a facility and work on cleaning up her house from mice.  Being closer to family also led to many visits with her brother, sister, and niece’s family and children.  A busy time but enjoyable as well.  Father’s Day we spent at our friend’s church in South Beloit, renewing acquaintances and enjoying a final meal with them.

The weather was hot and humid for much of our stay.  Of course, the one weekend they had other campers coming to the camp area it rained.  It also rained off and on for several days before we were to leave.  There was ‘no rain’ in the forecast, so we left all the packing up for first thing in the morning.  By 10 am it was raining!  We finished up, had lunch at the camp, and met the camp maintenance director with the tractor to pull our trailer out.  We were parked in a grassy spot slightly downhill from the road and knew with the rain, slick grass, and uphill pull, that our van would only spin tires.  After getting hooked up we made fairly good time and stopped at a rest area near Portage with a beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright style building and wild native flowers.  We arrived in Fairchild, Wisconsin about supper time, hot and tired, and looking forward to our month of music ministry and rest!

16 WI Roadside We know that the whole of creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Romans 8:22-23


Listen to our hearts, hear our spirit sing
a song of praise that flows from those you have redeemed.
We will use the words we know to tell you what an awesome God you are
But words are not enough to tell you of our love, so listen to our hearts.
(Chorus to “Listen to our Hearts” by Geoff Moore)

 Thank you for your continued prayers and support!
John and Connie Nicholas, Salty Strings Music Ministry

Contact Information:      Phone – John 909-336-8910 or Connie 909-336-8912
Email –    Facebook – Salty Strings Music Ministry
Check out our NEW web site:
ONLINE DONATIONS via PayPal through our web site

MAIL ADDRESS:        John & Connie Nicholas ~ Salty Strings Music Ministry
255 N Sperry Street, Bushnell, IL  61422


  • August – Camp Lundgren, Pembine, Wisconsin; upper northeast Wisconsin
  • September – Camp Michindoh, south central Michigan
  • October – Potomac Park, Falling Waters, West Virginia; upper northeast
  • November – Tentative – Georgia
  • December/January – Tentative – Florida
  • February/March/April – Tentative – Louisiana and/or Northeast Texas