The Salt Shaker – October 2018

You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you, making you spill your coffee everywhere.  Why did you spill the coffee?”   (answer at the end)

 Prayers – “Listening” for God’s direction; being flexible; confidence in music ministry; music contacts and recording.

 Praises – Crossing the Eastern Continental Divide, van made the trip again; unpredictable beautiful fall weather; reconnecting with church family; wifi at the trailer sites this year at Potomac Park, what a blessing!

Greetings to all our friends, family, and followers:

02 Coos HomeThis October project begins our fourth year of ministry!  It is amazing that we are still re-arranging our possessions within our ~300 sq ft of trailer.  From October 2015 to September 2018 we have volunteered at 21 different Christian ministries.  30 months have been as SOWER volunteers, 4 months volunteering at Little Galilee Christian Camp, and 2 months of “time off” with lots of music ministry.  There is no way to quantify the spiritual impact – lots of volunteer hours of work and help as expected, but also many more hours in listening and encouraging the staff of these ministries as well as “Salty Strings” ministry of sharing and building up others through music and testimony of God working in and through us.

Our arrival at Potomac Park, Falling Waters, West Virginia, brought relief from the rain for them.  The ground was a bit soggy from their very wet year making parking a bit difficult (we had to have the van pulled out of the mud last year) but we didn’t get stuck this time.  Although above average for temperatures we had 2 weeks of sunny weather, the longest stretch of sunshine they had all summer!  We were able to vary our hours and add numerous extra volunteer hours to provide helping hands in the kitchen and complete some “to do” things around the camp.

John started in the first Saturday we were there helping them close down the pool area and cover the pool.  That evening found both of us helping in the kitchen and serving guests.  John’s primary task was to close in an area of the Activity Center to be used as a kitchen for the lessees’ activities.  (There are numerous small homes on the property that create the lessee community.)  The skills he learned last month in installing ceiling tile grid were used and he learned a lot in building wall sections.  As is typical in building, plans change, so the framed and installed window was removed to create a permanent pass through with a garage-type lowering door in the future.  There was putting wood framing to the steel I-beam to attach the new walls, moving lights and light switch, changing ceiling tile grid and tiles, framing walls with chair rail, temporarily hanging the door, putting up T111 siding for the outer walls, caulking, painting, and putting up the baseboard in slightly over three weeks!  The lessees were so excited to see the progress, even though there are many more hours needed to install cabinets and new appliances as well as plumbing, drains, and electrical plugs.  He also spent an extra volunteer day helping to remove shingles from an old cottage now used for storage.

Connie spent most of her time in the kitchen helping with prep work, setting up dining areas, and serving food the first week.  Then came the “uplift” to Mason dining hall.  The paint appeared for the posts which led to the decision to add a bit more color down the center and window cement block valances even.  More paint was required for the second coat and the director decided to go a shade darker to match the existing curtains better.  Connie was able to squeeze two more coats out of the next gallon of paint making everything blend together quite well.  John had the task of spray painting the old vents and was coaxed to put them back on!

Connie received a coffee cup from a lady’s retreat with the inspirational sayings inside and used in this newsletter.  Although the coffee cup was returned to them (we have too many already), the messages will be kept as a reminder of what our lives are to be.

12 Jirani CoffeehouseJohn had arranged for a coffeehouse gig on a Saturday night “down the hill” in Manassas, Va.  We spent the afternoon with our son and daughter-in-law and her family enjoying a Greek dinner and walk around downtown Manassas before ending at Jirani (Swahili for neighbor) Coffeehouse.  While walking around we stopped outside a new “game” store specializing in large versions of games (Yahtzee, checkers, etc.).  A father and daughter from our group paired off in a very intense Jenga competition with the much larger 2×4 blocks.  There was quite a crowd watching as she used a chair to reach the top blocks, eventually beating her dad who toppled the tower with a loud crash!  It was so good to see family interaction and what a witness to those who took the time to watch.


Sunday morning found us on the highways into D.C. where we drove past the famous huge cathedral on our way to the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land.  The Franciscan monks maintain special sites in Israel and have built replicas bringing “the Holy Land” to the U.S.  What a fantastic, ornate, and wonderful place to be, even though their wood pew benches were out for refinishing.  We completed the tour and walked around the grounds before heading back to Manassas and packing up for “home.”

Our last week was full of music!

On Thursday we provided the music for the quarterly hymn sing at Potomac Park – lots of good old hymns as well as some praise choruses and a few of our songs – followed by a delicious lunch.

On Sunday we provided two church services for Rehoboth United Methodist Church in Williamsburg, Maryland.  This is the church we attended last year and became attached to many through Sunday School and Wednesday Bible Study.  The Pastor and music leader were visiting other churches to gather ideas for their new building.  Both services went well and we were blessed as we shared our music, testimony, and encouraged them with our theme of “Life Changes, God Doesn’t.”

On Monday we joined some of the lessee musicians for a “Talent Night.”  We did two songs and were asked by the camp director to do “one more,” his favorite (‘I Believe in Jesus’ written by John to an Irish pub song) which we managed without music.  After the talent came a half hour of praise and worship in which John joined the praise team and Connie played “sound tech” for the groups.

The other big event for the month was Connie’s 64th birthday.  Her/our new bed was delivered during lunch after the hymn sing (supposed to come in the evening) and we watched the “bed in a box” being unrolled and decompressing, amazingly turning into a comfortable night’s sleep.  Different, but no more “boinging” coils as you roll over in the night!  We stretched her Birthday celebration for several weeks; delivered home-cooked meal from our son, Golden Corral lunch, Cold Stone ice cream, and present received!!

Tuesday (October 23) found us packing up, forgetting our table-mate converted music stand, and saying our good-byes.  We were so blessed to be a part of this camp again this year.  We received a thank you bag of travel goodies (donuts, chips, cookies, etc.) as well as a whole batch of peanut butter fudge from our lessee neighbor, eggs and hamburger, day-old donated food, and leftovers from the kitchen – no worries about “what to eat” as we traveled and set up camp again!  Day one of travel we noticed the outside shower door swinging back and forth right before making a gas stop.  Connie checked the latch, which was partially broken, and taped the door shut so it wouldn’t rattle open again (we have never used this anyway).  After getting gas Connie locked the keys inside the van; thankfully the windows were down enough for John to reach in with our stabilizer bar tool and hit the unlock button.  Day two of travel as Connie pumped gas and didn’t put back the gas cap or close the lid (but John didn’t notice as he got in to drive) we lost our gas cap!  We arrived, looked at each other, and decided we are getting very forgetful or perfecting our “bad news” reaction skills!!  But, we will continue to “run the race” with our eyes “fixed on the prize before us” (2 Timothy 4:7-8; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Hebrews 12:1-2) using all of our forgetfulness, travels, and circumstances as a witness to God’s faithfulness and for His glory!

11 Ladies RetreatAnswer: “You spilled the coffee because there was coffee in your cup.  Had there been tea in the cup, you would have spilled tea.  The point is whatever is inside the cup is what will spill out.  Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you (which will happen), whatever is inside you will come out.  It’s easy to fake it until you get rattled.  So, we have to ask ourselves, ‘What’s in my cup?’  When life gets tough, what spills out?  Joy, gratefulness, peace and humility?  Or does anger, bitterness, harsh words, and reactions come out?  You choose!
Today (and everyday) lets work towards filling our cup with gratitude, forgiveness, joy, words of affirmation, kindness, gentleness, and love for others.”

Thanks for being a part of our adventures!

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                         Web site:
ONLINE DONATIONS via PayPal through our web site

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


  • November – Boys and Girls Home of NC, Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina; southeast
  • December – Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, Live Oak, Florida; north central
  • January/February – Camp Horizon, Leesburg, Florida; north central
  • March – Tentative – Acadian Baptist Center, Eunice, Louisiana; south central
  • April – Tentative – Northeast Texas