The Salt Shaker ~ March 2020

And the crowds asked him (John the Baptist), “What then shall we do?”  And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics (garments) is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”  Luke 3:10-11 English Standard Version

Praises – Our prayers work!  We remain healthy; beautiful weather

Prayers – Friends and family to remain safe; finances for those without jobs; recording opportunities; continuing exercising; patience and perseverance

Greetings to our friends, followers, and family:

Our last volunteer work in February involved attending a “Gala” fundraising event for the Rescue Mission.  It was quite the event and we were the guest greeters; giving them envelopes with their table assignments and auction bid cards.  We were treated to a fancy meal and observed generous hearts during the auction time.  Our oldest son visited over the weekend and then back to work!  Just the two of us for March volunteers, so we had the task of finishing the dining room project – new paint first which to us means cleaning vents and lights along the way.  The dining room is so busy with the meals and other activities our hours had to vary to find 2-3-hour blocks of time to work, including some evenings for the high traffic areas.  Although we decided to not enjoy the “interviews” with clients this month to make better use of the available time, we did get to know other clients fairly well as we worked in their areas.

We started with the tan walls, removing pictures, moving pop machines, cleaning vents, and light fixtures in the “lower” ceiling.  Week two found us changing to “tangerine” orange with more cleaning.  The angle window blocks are accent colors and once vacuumed and “wiped” down (with a damp rag on the end of a vacuum hose taped to a paint roller extension rod) they brightened up.  Trimming around these blocks was challenging as well, but with patience and perseverance John got it done.  Connie did all the fine trimming around the serving windows, but John did the tedious task of wiping off the lettering!  Above the serving area are lime green letters “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink” that were lightly rolled over with paint, let dry a few minutes, then wiped off letter by letter.  Being detail oriented, John took extra time to get all the old paint off as well for a very professional new text look.

Into the third week we made it to the 160’ of new baseboard which included scraping the floor and washing the walls as needed.  Pieces as long as 37’ were cut off the roll, wrapped around corners, scored for inside corners, and glued up; some days working after 6:30 pm to get to those areas that were too busy during the day.  After that the final finishing touches.  Three stainless steel edge molding pieces were drilled and glued/screwed to high traffic wall edges and the bug lights were reinstalled, one of which had a faulty cord (only 1 prong of 3 on the plug end).  Connie direct-wired a piece of new extension cord so it would work before hanging it back up.  And there was the afternoon that Connie left early, stopping by the walk-in cooler for eggs and “locking” herself in the cooler.  No cell phone reception, but fists pounding on the door finally brought rescue and finding out a powerful firm push on the door would have opened it; how humbling.

Throughout this month the “pandemic” restrictions continued to evolve and change, including ‘no volunteers’ at the mission.  Since we were not told to leave our lives remained pretty much the same.  We continued attending Coachella Valley Christian Church weekly evening Bible study and playing along with the praise team (both groups of less than 8 people).  We were the worship leaders one Sunday morning, provided music for the “Young at Heart” corned beef and cabbage lunch, and did a “Fun Day” concert for three brave souls after California banned gatherings of more than 6 people.  The Rescue Mission quit allowing the public to come into the facility but continued with “to go” meals and their weekly food box distribution.  The “bread run” (outdated items from grocery stores) continued, but without the public access lots of food was thrown away or, once contact was made, given to the “pig farmer.”  During our last week we started shopping for our Chinese family friends and were able to take several boxes of food to them – what a blessing to be able to share our blessings!  John was concerned with the toilet paper shortage and we were out of paper towels which caused us to make a few bike trips to our local Walmart Neighborhood Market (the grocery section of Walmart Supercenters).  After three trips we were able to get what we needed.

We finally had rain!  Over a few days perhaps 4” but enough at one time to cause 6” deep puddles where we had to walk.  We still find ourselves catching black/grey peripheral glimpses thinking a storm is coming then realizing it is some of the mountains surrounding this desert valley, no rain in sight.  One bright sunshiny day there were clouds rolling up from the ocean to the mountain ridge to our west that looked like a huge waterfall as they piled up and spilled over the top.  Photos, at least with our phones, can’t capture things like that!  We continued to build our relationship with Hazel, a homeless kitty, purchasing a small bag of dry food and feeding her (along with 2 homeless chihuahuas nicknamed Pico and Paco by us and lots of pigeons).  Connie was able to pick up Hazel and had her sit in her lap once as well as letting her in to roam the trailer several times.

14 20200331_120135No matter what we tried God closed the door to our travels to Bakersfield (thanks to your prayers).  We had a fairly tense week of indecision on where we were to go and what we were to do, including Coronavirus impact, heading back east and north to family, staying in this area, or heading north.  We made calls to the SOWER ministry office and to our “volunteer project” for May and June, said lots of prayers, and waited for God’s confirmation.  Because we do have church “family” here and our May/June project still needs help we found an affordable RV park (with pool and hot tub) less than 2 miles away for our vacation month off.  We went to church Sunday morning (March 29), returned, hooked up and left at 1:45, arrived, and were set up by 3:30!  While biking we took this photo, perhaps we do need a short vacation?  We are now biking or swimming every day, trying to lose those extra “free grocery” pounds, and sleeping in a bit.  We have lovely birds in the morning, and not so lovely fire sirens from the fire station on the other side of the road.  And we do have work to do – the church needs a fix for a steep roof adjoining a flat overhang – so we have been brainstorming, sketching, and pricing materials.

15 FlowersAs promised, flower pictures from this area.  It is very beautiful here, in a different way, and we are so blessed to be able to travel with the seasons and experience the grandeur of God’s creation and all different types of people.

God speaking to Joshua (and to us): “Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9 English Standard Version (thanks Pastor Kilson, Lane Christian Church, Lane, IL)

Thanks for traveling with us and being part of our family too!
John and Connie Nicholas, Salty Strings Music Ministry

Contact Information:      Mail:  John & Connie Nicholas ~ Salty Strings Music Ministry,
3916 N. Potsdam Ave. #3962, Sioux Falls, SD  57104

Phone – John 909-336-8910 or Connie 909-336-8912      Email:
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  • April – month off, Indio, CA (south desert valley)
  • April 29-30 – Travel to Pacifica, CA
  • May 1-June 30 – Pacific Bay Christian School, Pacifica, CA (west central)
  • July 2-August 27 – Warm Beach Senior Community, Stanwood, WA (northwest)
  • September – tentative month off, Washington or Oregon state
  • September 21-October 29 – Aldersgate Camps and Retreats, Turner, OR (northwest)