The Salt Shaker – April 2019

 “It is good to praise the Lord and make music to Your name, O Most High, proclaiming Your love in the morning and Your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp.  For You make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done.”  Psalm 92:1-4

Greetings to our families, friends, and followers:

Praises –Safe travel without any incidence from Texas to Illinois; ability and strength to do hard work without back or foot problems; projects that feed us, what a blessing to our budget; for all our prayer partners and supporters!  

Prayers –Continuing to do work as needed without re-occurrence of injury; Memorial Services for Connie’s dad (Curt) to go smoothly May 23(Lane) and 29 (Beloit); RV spot near Beloit for July; Music ministry opportunities

 Our SOWER Round-up (reunion) the end of March was very busy with special music and devotions every day so we appreciated a few days of nothing-ness!  Prior to the start of our volunteer work we enjoyed a camp fire with the three couples staying for this project, our first fire since December.

Our project this month, International ALERT Academy, was different in many ways from our other camps.  We attended “recruit” night where 33 young men started their training, much like boot camp with a Christian emphasis.  These “kids” will be stretched physically, mentally, and spiritually!  They will have survival training, pass inspections, learn respect for their commanders, build up to a 24 hour 55-mile hike in wilderness conditions, and recite 1 Peter from memory before their graduation.  All 33 Cadets were still in training at the time we left (week 5).  Phase 2 is basic response training and Phase 3 is certification in EMT, Fire, Rescue, Diving, Pilot, and Mobile Response.  This campus is huge with lots to be done and is great to ride bicycle around.

We chose to go about 25 minutes away to Holly Tree Bible Church where we met Pastor Tim and a wonderful congregation.  We were invited to share with some special music for three events and were blessed to attend their outdoor Easter sunrise service in a beautiful wooded setting, brunch, and indoor service with harp, piano, violin, and special singers.  It was wonderful!

John and the guys spent most of their time upgrading 8 camp sites for big rigs.  Lots of digging of trenches for water, sewer, and electric (lots of sand in the wash machine too!); putting in posts for electric boxes and a high post to mount the wifi repeater with a boom bucket; laying underlayment, and shoveling asphalt to park on.  The last few days they were patching holes in the roads and moving bleachers and chairs to prepare for a large group coming in.

Connie graduated to a “sewing SOWER” this month!  She spent her time in the sewing room starting with ripping seams for the new recruit shirt alterations and cutting out the body of an eagle for a banner.  Into week 2 she did a lot of ironing – shirt sleeves for patch locations and dress pants for hemming, and cutting old towels into appropriate rag sizes.  Finally, instructions on use of the serge sewing machine and getting to sew!  The final days were ironing, cutting, and hemming the sleeves on boys’ shirts for Father Son camp.  It was a lot of fun.

On our many drives to church and for errands we found typical signs of spring with lots of deer and some wild boar piglets along the roadside, lots of flowers starting to bloom in multiple colors, and some fox pups living in the underwater storm system at ALERT and poking their heads out of the drain gutter near the dining room.  Twice we moved our vehicles inside a large convention building with threats of thunder storms producing large hail.  Thankfully for our trailer roofs it was an unnecessary precaution since the storm fronts were quite mild.  We had three game nights where John provided background music for “Hillbilly Rummy” (Connie won the last game!).  One of those nights we also celebrated April anniversaries with cake and ice cream.

12 FlowersOur 35th wedding anniversary was a great day – playing special music at church, being treated by the Pastor to a wonderful lunch, taking photos of flowers, putting on a new harp string, and sitting around a camp fire until the mosquitoes attacked.  There is a harp player who lives and works on campus that is inspiring Connie to get back to “Frankenharp” practice (our rescued harp has metal plates bolted together at the top to help straighten the neck).  Right before we left, she came over and gave some pointers as well as playing our harp, it sounds pretty good when you know what you are doing!

Wednesday April 24 we were back on the road for a two-day trip to Illinois with great driving conditions with the wind at our back.  Up to 7.4 miles per gallon staying on interstate most of the way with light rain most of the second day.  We decided to cut north on the outer bypass of St. Louis and cross over the Mississippi River into Alton, IL since we had viewed the beautiful bridge a few years ago.  There were lots of soggy fields along our drive as well as flooding along the Mississippi.  We arrived safe and sound with time to visit some of the staff and get mostly set up before going to dinner.  We parked near our 2016 spot, barely within wifi range, and ran 140’ of water hose to the nearest building for our water supply due to water line breaks in this area of the RV sites.  It is good to be back at a camp we love volunteering at!

“You shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land He has given you.  Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God . . .   Deuteronomy 8:10-11

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


  • April 25-May 18 –Lake Williamson, Carlinville, Illinois; central
  • May 19 – June 1 – Tentative – Little Galilee Christian Camp, Clinton, Illinois; central
  • Memorial Service – May 23, 10 am at Lane Christian Church, Lane, IL
  • Memorial Service – May 29, 10 am at Beloit Eagles Club, Beloit, WI
  • June 1-30 – Macomb/Bushnell Illinois with family
  • July – Tentative – Beloit Wisconsin area with family
  • August-September – Tentative – Minnesota Projects and SOWER Reunion

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s