Praises –A week off with extra days to relax between volunteer projects; lots of meals provided by our host with homemade bread and few desserts, a great blessing to the food budget!
Prayers – Financial concerns (early filing for social security?); van transmission and other parts as it has 196,000+ miles; recording more songs.
Greetings to our friends, followers, and families:
Jesus speaking . . . “So I tell you, don’t worry about the things you need to live . . . Don’t worry and say, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ That’s what those people who don’t know God are always thinking about. Don’t worry, because your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. What you should want most is God’s kingdom and doing what He wants you to do. Then He will give you all these other things you need. So, don’t worry about tomorrow. Each day has enough trouble of its own . . .
Matthew 6:25, 31-34 ERV (Easy-to-Read Version)
This month starts our 5th year with SOWERs! Where has the time went? This is our 39th SOWER volunteer project, we have spent 5 months volunteering at Little Galilee in Clinton, IL and have had 5 months off “project” work staying at camp grounds providing music and help to our families. Life has been so good and we are very aware of how God keeps using us and blessing us along the way. It is a privilege to be able to serve our amazing God in this way!
Our first week in northeast Texas was very hot and humid! We put up our hummingbird feeder and within two days had one lone bird. The feeder was adopted for a few days by a sparrow, then the bees gathered as the temperatures dropped. We attended R-night (new Recruits starting their 8 weeks of “basic” training) where we randomly adopted a Canadian recruit to pray for. John was digging, laying, and packing sand/dirt around an 8” water line to an outlying building. After three days they were able to pressure test the fittings, with success, and start the final burying process. John finally got into some fire ants while digging and has a better appreciation for all the bites Connie usually gets. Connie helped clean up the sewing room for the recruits to get fitted for their uniforms, in an assembly-line fashion, then sort and stack the correct sizes for each recruit.
Week two was just about perfect weather allowing for lots of walks and bike rides (after fixing a flat on Connie’s bicycle) and getting our South Dakota license plate on the van. One morning there was a leaf twirling around in the breeze about a foot from the ground; on closer inspection it was hanging from a spider web strand off our awning. As we were able to enjoy the outdoors, we noticed many different kinds of trees, the most interesting being Magnolia trees in the fall with their shiny leaves and pods of red berries. One evening before leaving for dinner we had to wait for a butterfly/moth to fly off of Connie’s pocket!
John graduated from ditch digging to repairman diagnosing and repairing some washers and dryers, replacing electric plugs, and finishing woodwork repairs and touch-up paint in two dorm rooms. He was quite at home and glad to get to use the wood shop here! Connie continued in the sewing room, helping with a few alterations, pressing shirt sleeves for patches, and sewing name tapes (embroidered lettering) on the field jackets and short sleeve shirts. There was a power outage one morning causing them to relocate to the end of the dining room to keep sewing.
Our third week of this project was “Family Camp” with lots of families and kids in dorm rooms and the camp ground. Good speakers, good fellowship, a mini-orchestra with two harp players, lots of activities like all camps, and yucky rainy cold weather the first few days! Connie was recruited to help with the sewing and crafts; 3 to 4 hours each day with a different sewing project or craft every day for 5 days, plus the time to learn how to make each sewing project. It was a lot of standing on cement or stone tile floors but well worth it as she helped kids (and a few adults) make projects they could use. John was recruited to help with the “golf cart” races one rainy morning – very few showed up and some of the races were between 4-wheelers and human runners. His second recruiting was for the “white washing” competition where teams (mostly kids) primed sections of the pasture fencing after he spent a day prepping multiple fence sections to bare wood, using the clapboard planers (grinders) he repaired. There was lots of flying paint and some unique painting styles as well! Family Camp ended with a cookout at the lake, slide show of the campers, and a great firework display without all the big bright-white booms. It was wonderful to sit within 100 feet of the shooting area and have the fireworks so close, one of the best displays we have ever seen!
It seems the majority of our married life we have lived “away” from a larger town with good shopping and our life on the road is no different. Connie’s birthday included a trip to town (Longview) and lunch at Golden Corral along with the usual grocery shopping. Her birthday also brought Medicare benefits and an appointment to check out the “bumps” on her head. On our way to the initial visit the van “unshifted” causing some panic since we had not obtained roadside assistance coverage yet. After pulling off the road and restarting the van, all was well, we made it on time for the appointment, and got the roadside assistance coverage the next day! The initial visit was successful, removal is covered by Medicare but only one each week so three appointments were made to remove the sebaceous cysts and God granted favor with the doctor who removed the skin tag on her eye “free of charge.” This trip to town included 10 stops in 8 hours, one of which was for lunch that made us both a bit queasy for a few days.
We attended “Cowboy Church” one Sunday morning where there was a baptism in a big water trough, a bit different. Our other Sunday’s found us back at Holly Tree Bible Church where we provided some special music and an attended an evening fellowship potluck. There are four SOWER projects in this area and we all joined together for another potluck meal one evening. John was able to visit a “little” guitar shop in a very small town only to find that customers come from all over the world to visit this shop and get repairs done. He tried out a few guitars before realizing the price tags were $10,000-$15,000! We also found Brookshire’s grocery store has great Jalapeno bread and the best fried chicken of anywhere we have been! Connie even got her harp out of the corner, tuned it up, and has practiced almost every day (which John enjoys).
We finally took a full week off, no extra volunteer hours or activities, and relaxed along with getting some of our “to do” things done. John started buffing/polishing the trailer along with cleaning and sealing the roof. We had a couple of camp fires with chilly evenings helping to reduce the wood we have been carrying around for just such a time. Our focus for the week was to record some of our songs and we managed to establish the logistics and get some good tracks made in spite of being sick part of the week. Best of all, we don’t have to move anywhere ~ it truly is a blessing for us to stay at the same project for two months!
The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field, the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children – with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
Psalm 103:15-18 NIV
Until next month – thanks for traveling with us!
John and Connie Nicholas, Salty Strings Music Ministry
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John & Connie Nicholas ~ Salty Strings Music Ministry,
3916 N. Potsdam Ave. #3962, Sioux Falls, SD 57104
TRAVEL PLANS AND UPCOMING LOCATIONS
- October 28-November 21 – ALERT Academy – Big Sandy, TX (northeast)
- November 21-December 31 – Riverbend Retreat Center – Glen Rose, TX (north central)
- January 6-January 31, 2020 – Phoenix Christian School, Phoenix, AZ
- February 1 – Coachella Valley Rescue Mission, Indio, CA (southeast)