The Salt Shaker ~ March 2019

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”  2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Greetings to our families, friends, and followers:

Prayers – RV park for July in Beloit, Wisconsin; continued rest needed from all the travel and activity; safe 3-day travel to Illinois April 24-26; music ministry opportunities for May, June, and July

 Praises – Safe air travel; family and friends; RV parking found for June; strength and peace only God can provide; volunteer time-off allowing us to travel!

As we traveled the end of February through the panhandle of Florida, we saw the inland devastation of hurricane Michael.  Although “cleaned up” there were still trees twisted, broken, and being cleared along with I10 road signs bent and crushed along the road edges.  After a great day of driving (over 400 miles) we spent our first night at a Walmart near the west edge of Florida and proceeded the next morning into Alabama, crossing Mobile Bay into the city.  As we crossed John noticed an alligator heading slowly towards a bird resting on the water.  Connie drove us through the tunnel (a bit scary pulling a trailer) and on through Mississippi and into Louisiana.  Our second night on the road was spent at one of our favorite volunteer projects outside of Eunice, where we had electricity for the night.  What a blessing along with hugs and chats with some of the staff.  Following a wonderful breakfast in town we were back on the road noticing the following signs: “WARNING Speed Trap” and after crossing into Texas “Hitchhikers May Be Escaped Inmates.”  Interesting to say the least!

We stopped at the Walmart in Woodville, TX before continuing the last 10 miles of our journey.  The very final 3 miles started with a turn off the “hard road” onto a bumpy dirt and sand logging road.  Texas had a lot of drizzly rainy days recently making the road very slow, muddy, and slippery in places.  We were warned to stay in the tire grooves (sometimes 4-6” deep) and that the black areas had been filled in with rock and were solid under the mud.  We continued on, the road turning into the private drive to Triple Creek RV Music Park and were certain we would “arrive” just around the next bend . . . and the next, etc.  You can imagine the conversation as we slip-slided our way to our new home!  We were greeted, shown to our site, mostly set up, and made it to the 5pm potluck in the shed (cozy woodstove going) followed by our first jam session.  John played his mandolin while Connie, being tired out from the travel, listened and worked on a jigsaw puzzle.

Triple Creek is a great place to be with lots of potlucks, great musicians, early morning men’s coffee time, Monday night BINGO (Connie won once), and Saturday mid-morning breakfasts.  A group of young musicians, ‘Snake Blood Remedy’ gave a great impromptu “old country style” concert when they spent the night before going into Houston for some shows.  Washboard rhythm section, violin/fiddle, guitars, banjo, harmonies, and yodeling for about an hour before the jam session started.

Connie split her time at the camp with trips to Wisconsin for her brothers’ final days in Hospice.  (He has spent the last 3 years in surgeries and treatments for brain and lung cancer.)  Our son flew from Phoenix to Houston to help her travel stand-by and provide chauffeur service for the first trip (March 4 to 11).  They enjoyed a string quartet at Houston Hobby Airport while waiting.  Once in Beloit she stayed at her brother’s house helping relieve the main care-givers and providing some extra hands for cooking, cleaning, and care.  After his death we both flew back to Wisconsin (March 18 to 21) for the funeral.  A special “thank you” to all those who were there for us emotionally, the relatives we haven’t seen for many years, and all who helped with the funeral and everything that goes with it.

John did a lot of pickin’ and grinnin’ along with making several potluck dishes and driving to Houston airports several times.  After leaving Connie at the airport he managed to get through downtown Houston, construction detours getting him lost in the city twice.  GPS kept wanting to take him back to previous construction, so he gave up on that and just headed east until running into the main highway home.

With all the travel Connie didn’t have much time to enjoy the craft shop at camp where all sorts of yarn, sewing supplies, multiple weaving looms, spinning wheels, and a triangle loom were available for use.  The camp owners have three alpacas (Johnny, Waylon, and Merle) for fleece/yarn but there was no time to try some spinning.  She did manage to start a triangle shawl and crammed the last few days to get it wove and off the loom before leaving; with the addition of a border it will become a gift.  All the air travel also provided great down time to get another shawl (promised five years ago) almost finished as well.

Sunday, March 24, found us packing up and heading northwest, through Nacogdoches (John can pronounce that from an old John Wayne movie) where we switched drivers and found beautiful deep red clover along the roadside.  We arrived at our next volunteer project early for the Texas Roundup (SOWER Reunion) where we provided a special song that evening along with leading worship the next three mornings and some songs for the talent night.  It was a wonderful time of fellowship and great teaching with horses from “Sermon on the Mount” ministries.  We spent two mornings on bleachers outdoors while receiving biblical teaching as a young two-year old colt was “broke” for riding.  The trainer of course knows what is best but the horse wants to continue in its own way.  The trainer allowed the horse to “run wild” until he would look him in the eye which brought a smooch and the reward of rest and relationship being built.  In less than 2 hours the first day the colt was saddled and rode with one lead rope rein and a few smooches.  The second day reinforced lessons on trust and rewards, some body commands, and a very confident ride inside the fence.  Truly amazing!

A beautiful way to end this month is with spring coming, at least in the south.  More blooming flowers, redbud, and paulownia (new to us) trees here in northeast Texas, along with the pine pollen!  Migrating cardinals arrived our third week along with some beautiful black and white winged woodpeckers as we were leaving.  What a joy to see God’s handiwork renewed!

“Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being praise His holy name.  Praise the Lord, O my soul and forget not all His benefits – who forgives . . . and heals . . . who redeems . . . and satisfies your desires with good things.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him.  Praise the Lord, all His works everywhere in His dominion.  Praise the Lord, O my soul!  (Psalm 103:1-5, 11, 22 paraphrased)

Thanks for being a part of our travels!
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


  • April 1-24 – ALERT Academy, Big Sandy, Texas; northeast
  • April 25-May 18 –Lake Williamson, Carlinville, Illinois; central
  • May 19 – June 1 – Tentative – Little Galilee Christian Camp, Clinton, Illinois; central
  • June 1-30 – Macomb/Bushnell Illinois with family
  • July – Tentative – Beloit Wisconsin area with family
  • August-September – Tentative – Minnesota Projects and SOWER Reunion

The Salt Shaker – February 2019

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.  They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.  Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”  Psalm 19:1-4a

Greetings to our families, friends, and followers:

Prayers – Rest and rejuvenation as we take a month off in March to continue the work of our volunteer ministry in the months to come; discernment for songs for Sower Texas Roundup reunion worship music at the end of the month; RV park for July in Beloit, Wisconsin.

 Praises – Good roads and weather for 3-day trip to Texas; visiting friends over night at Acadia Baptist Center, Eunice, LA.

For our February project we didn’t have to travel (good, because Connie was still anxious about traveling again).  We stayed at Camp Horizon for a second month along with two other SOWER couples.  An additional five new couples joined us for a total of eight volunteer couples for the month.  Everyone was needed for all the work to be done!

The ladies continued to clean after groups and deep clean four of the eight cabins after the guys were finished with their work.  We started at the top and worked our way down:  ceilings, air vents, light fixtures, walls, curtains, lockers inside and out, bathrooms top to bottom, mattresses, and mopping the floors.  Connie also put plugs in the new windows, those little plastic pieces that cover the screws, which included re-drilling the factory holes so they would fit.  In addition, we cleaned the kitchen storage area including “combing” the streamers and bagging them to keep from tangling in the future and did some food prep work.

The men were quickly split into teams for replacing all the windows and adding egress doors to five remaining cabins.  Some pulled out old windows, some rebuilt rotten wall sections as needed, some were installers, and others caulked or ran for parts and supplies.  John was the designated “Doorman” and worked with the camp maintenance man as he learned all the “ins and outs” (pun intended) of door installation.  The cabins tended to sink slightly toward the back and the walls were not perfectly plumb, so John learned from their head maintenance guy how to overcome this and other minor problems.  After a few doors another SOWER helped out and together the last doors were done quicker and better.  These skills will obviously come in handy for future SOWER projects that will benefit other Christian ministries we are called to serve at.

Camp Horizon hosted a Marriage Seminar where we were asked to do a concert following their special date night dinner.  We had a great time and were a blessing to many as we shared songs around a love theme.  We continued attending First Christian Church of Leesburg where we provided special music for the early service, and a mini-concert for their “Fabulous Friday’s at First” talent night.  Some snowbirds we met our first winter in Florida (“The Indiana Gang”) invited us to The River Palms RV Resort (south of Zephyr Hills, about 2 hours away) for a wonderful reunion meal after which we made our way to the activities building where we had ice cream and put on an evening concert for the park residents.  This was also John’s Birthday so the travel and fellowship made for a memorable day.  Our last Sunday we ministered with some special music for the Leesburg Church of the Nazarene, where some SOWER friends attend, and were invited to their Chili cook-off movie night which was a lot of fun.

On our last Tuesday we drove about a half hour south to Groveland where we spent one day with the SOWER reunion.  It was great getting together with old and new friends and meeting new SOWER couples just starting their adventures.  We did the morning devotion using the fruit of the Spirit as our theme with a song for each (Galatians 5:22-23).  We had many positive comments and will likely use this again sometime.  Connie joined the lady’s choir for a special song following the devotion time.  We stayed for the evening concert and really enjoyed seeing “The Puffers,” a couple with about as many instruments as us!  John also worked hard in practicing new songs and techniques from his mandolin lessons.

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There was some time this month for several bike rides around the camp and for several days we were able to watch a helicopter practice with a water ball, flying back and forth gathering water from the lake and dumping it near the airport.  There were WWII planes (Florida War Birds) overhead February 8-9 and we were able to see the SpaceX Falcon 9 evening rocket launch from the camp (February 21).  Weather related, we had blue sky with white puffy clouds to the south and gray clouds with a rainbow to the north one afternoon. 

Connie started a “net” to help us move and carry our newest acquisition, John’s Christmas and Birthday present, a massage chair insert that helps his back and soothes sore muscles as well.  On one trip to town there were young eagles (we think) in the camp entrance field learning to fly and picking at some carcass on the ground.  The night we returned from our reunion it appeared a bag was over the gate keypad and we wondered how we were going to get back home; turned out it was an owl sitting on the post that flew away right in front of our windshield.  What a beautiful sight it was in the light from the headlights!  And spring is coming!!!  The flowers and trees are blooming:  azaleas, hibiscus, spiderwort, wild hibiscus, and others we don’t know.

February 27 found us on the road again, with Connie over her anxiety of traveling.  We spent the first night at a Walmart still in Florida, leaving early the next morning to cross into Alabama, drive through the tunnel in Mobile, through Baton Rouge and on to Eunice, Louisiana where we were able to stay overnight with electricity at one of the Christian camps we have worked at.  We went to breakfast into town with the leaders from our first project before getting back on the road to our final destination outside Woodville, Texas.  And that journey is to be continued next month!



“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.  He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. . . Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”   Psalm 23:1-3, 6

Thanks for being a part of our travels!
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


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


  • 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
  • July – Tentative – Beloit Wisconsin area with family