I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.(Isaiah 45:5-6 and Psalm 113:3 – New International Version)
Prayers – Safety as we volunteer this month; discernment for songs to share for our February music engagements; and to ease our anxiety for long travel (February 27-March 1) to northeast Texas.
Praises – February music opportunities; help with changing trailer tires; back problems almost gone.
Greetings to our friends, followers, and families:
Our praise from last month was being thankful for the ways God protected us and others on the road with our flat tire. Now for the rest of the story! Friday, January 4 we were ready to leave with little to do in the morning so we could make our “short” trip to Leesburg, FL first thing and be set up before the rain started. How long could 149 miles take? We left at 8:05 am and arrived at 5:15 pm!!! (That’s 9 hours 10 minutes, average of a little over 16 miles per hour.)
As John backed up to be in position to make the swing and turn out of the driveway Connie noticed a different color area on the trailer front passenger tire – sure enough some steel belt was showing. So, we prayed and kept praying the whole trip. About 15 miles after we got on I75 south we were part of a 5-mile backup from 2 lanes being closed due to construction/clean-up from a multi-fatality accident the previous day. Another 32 miles down the road found us at our third stop for use of facilities, already 11:15 am. (Interesting stop as we met two other SOWER couples at this rest area!) Back on the road again, still praying for our bad tire, and John noticed our outside hand shower compartment door was blowing open – another pull-off about 10 miles from the rest area and more gorilla tape fixed that. Back on the road and 20 miles later we were flagged down with a blown tire on the trailer front driver side. We pulled off and contacted our insurance roadside assistance who sent service from Orlando (80 miles away). The gas station near our waiting spot had a Cici’s pizza which we enjoyed around 1 pm for our lunch. The heavy downpour of rain started about the time we received a call saying our service truck had just left and it would be another 2 hours. By the time the service truck arrived the rain had let up and we were back on the road about 3:45 pm. Since we were still praying for the other bad tire and driving on our only spare, we chose to take the highways through towns and evening traffic through Ocala, The Villages, and Leesburg, along with a fairly steady rain. By the time we arrived it was sprinkling and we managed to get into our site, hooking up the electricity before calling it a day!
Saturday found us re-parking, getting leveled, and finishing our set up with a beautiful north Florida sunshiny day. Camp Horizon is in a rural setting with wonderful sunrises over the lake, lots of bird sounds, and the Leesburg International Airport runway directly across the swamp to our west. John especially enjoys watching the many planes fly over the camp and our trailer, from Learjets to WWII bombers and a P-51 fighter plane. We were blessed to be here during a men’s weekday retreat and a weekend retreat for the 7-8th grade choir of a public school. Since we were with 6 other SOWER couples our work was shared amongst many hands.
John started out the first day with a stiff back and helped make some table saw inserts. From there he painted some “plastic” boards the guys had routed for new signs along the driveway and installed them when finished. A team of three guys in a tractor bucket made short work of building some soffits and installing screening along 4 of the cabins. They worked assembly-line fashion unrolling the screen and stapling it into place, passing it along to the next guy before moving on to the next section. They had just about as much fun riding in the bucket, especially when they turned into the three monkeys (hear, speak, and see no evil) at the suggestion of a certain spouse who will remain nameless.
The ladies were primarily cleaning; the lodge (10 motel-like rooms), 10 cabins, chapel, and dining room along with doing the laundry from the men’s retreat. Connie was able to do some extra help in the kitchen preparing food and serving for the guests. She learned a new skill this month – sectioning fruit, navel and blood oranges, from the trees on the property. This camp uses everything with very little waste, even the orange end slices and portions too dry were distributed to those who wanted to “infuse” water.
We headed off our first Sunday morning to their “early” contemporary service at the First Christian Church of Leesburg, had a wonderful service, and stayed for the Bible Study after the service. We made introductions to the pastor and associate pastor and were warmly received and accepted into this church family. The following Sunday we went to their other Bible Study first then attended the traditional “late” service, meeting many more wonderful people. Since then we have been rotating services and shared some special music for the traditional service one Sunday. It was nice to have a bit of a break in our music ministry this month, but we have made several contacts and February will be fairly busy.
About 2 am on Sunday January 13 Connie received a call from Liberty Village that her Dad Curt had passed. He died peacefully in his sleep, before Hospice admitted him into their care (due to a snow storm). This was an answer to her prayers (Friday/Saturday) that he wouldn’t suffer and would go quickly. He was a daily Bible reader in the later years of his life, and enjoyed the church fellowship (and donuts) before dementia settled in. The sermon this Sunday was from 1 Thessalonians 1:3 and truly spoke to us in our music and volunteer ministries as well as thinking of Curt’s life and passing.
We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
We remembered Curt and the work he did for STAR Ministry in Florida, and his help for our many house projects. His faith prompted him to work actively serving God and others; his labor was prompted by love for the ministry and people he helped; and he did look confidently to eternal life having hope in the Lord Jesus. We hope to leave a legacy as well from the hours we spend serving and encouraging those around us.
We did find a nice bicycle trail in Leesburg, 7 miles round trip, just far enough to make the legs feel tired after several weeks of no bicycling. On Monday January 21 we were up at 1:45 am to see the solar eclipse with its red moon; what a beautiful site with a huge view of the sky. January 24 was our last “project” volunteer day and John managed to cut his finger, bad enough that he couldn’t play his instruments for a few days. He was able, with the help of a fellow SOWER to get all the trailer tires off, into town, mounted, and back on the trailer on our first “day off.” (Of course, with the trailer slides in and on jack posts, first one side, then the other, it was inaccessible for the day.)
We do thank God frequently for allowing us the privilege of meeting such wonderful committed people at our projects, other volunteers we volunteer alongside of, friendly people in the churches we have attended, and all of you who read through our ramblings!
We would ask in these coming weeks as you think of us to pray the following for us ~
“We continually ask God to fill [John and Connie] with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that [they] may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, begin strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that [they] may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified [them] to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light. For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:9b-14 NIV
Thanks for being a part of our travels!
John and Connie Nicholas, Salty Strings Music Ministry
ONLINE DONATIONS via PayPal through our web site
John & Connie Nicholas ~ Salty Strings Music Ministry, 255 N Sperry St, Bushnell, IL 61422
TRAVEL PLANS AND UPCOMING LOCATIONS
- February – Camp Horizon, Leesburg, Florida; north central
- March – Month off – Triple Creek RV Music Camp, Woodville, Texas; northeast
- April – ALERT Academy, Big Sandy, Texas; northeast
- May – Tentative – Lake Williamson, Carlinville, Illinois; central
- May 19 – June 1 – Little Galilee Christian Camp, Clinton, Illinois; central
- June – Tentative – Macomb/Bushnell Illinois with family