The Salt Shaker ~ April 2020

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  2 Peter 1:3 (NIV)

Greetings to our family, friends, and followers:

Praises – First side of church roof almost finished; beautiful RV resort to be at, swimming pool open; blessed with lots of free food.

Prayers – May SOWER projects cancelled, where to park May 30-June 3; on the road again at the end of the month after 4 months; van tire repair of slow leak; Godly wisdom for SOWER project decisions for July, August, September; church roof second side to be quicker, easier, and for safety while on the roof.

April was a month of adjustments for us, as for everyone.  After moving there is always a change in routine since your surroundings have changed, but this was different since it is “down” time with no structure to fall into, along with social distancing and stay at home orders.  We completed the material quote for the church and waited for approval, almost two weeks, before getting materials to start on April 13.  John and his helper Justin put in over 60 volunteer hours with lots of brain work and fitting to get the slopes and angles right for the adjoining roof sections.  The weather kept getting hotter, the roof and tools as well, and by the end of the month they were starting at 6am for about 3 hours each day.

It was a Friday evening (April 3) right before 6pm that we experienced our first, and hopefully last, earthquake.  We have been in some very strong winds that push the trailer about, but nothing like this!  We looked at each other thinking someone had backed into the trailer tongue as we rocked back and forth, at the same time wondering if “the end was near.”  Immediately we flipped the TV stations and found it was a 4.9 earthquake with 3.6 aftershock waves, the epi-center about 25 miles away.  A few weeks later we had lingering cool weather that brought some overnight rain and dropped snow down to 2500-foot elevations.  We woke to see the lower mountains with white tops, just for a few hours, but a beautiful sight.  (Our two big mountains here get snow regularly in the spring and still have white tops after two weeks of 100-degree temperatures in the desert valley.)

We celebrated Easter with online church services, a great ham dinner, and a zoom chat with our children!  It is good that we have the technology to do things like this, not quite the same as having everyone in the same house, but much easier since we are spread out in 4 states.  And then there was the fried ham and eggs, ham sandwiches, and Connie found a ham that the bone would fit in the insta-pot to make great broth for navy bean soup (with jalapeno corn bread for John)!  We also celebrated our 36th anniversary, as much as possible with no place to go, with a quiet afternoon (after the roofing) at home.  We had to wait a few days before going to Cold Stone Creamery for their “Gotta Have It” size ice cream treats to complete our celebration.

Even though we are 15-20 degrees above normal it doesn’t appear it will be getting much cooler.  Connie spends most of her day inside with the air conditioning as the trailer heats up quickly with sunshine and temperatures over 100.  This has allowed her to get in lots of harp practice, finish up some craft projects, do more cooking, and make lots of carrot juice.  She went off one morning “biking for quarters” to finish the laundry – about a mile to Walmart Market, no luck; to a bank drive through, only ATM machines; entering the bank (it is weird entering a bank with a bandana tied over your face), only ATM machines; and to McDonald’s “drive through” where no contact ordering finally resulted in getting quarters!  (Every stop meant locking the bike, removing the hat and glasses, and tying on the bandana.)  We try to bike to the Redbox locations to rent DVD movies about once a week.  One ride was a bit tougher as we had to go over two overpasses to get there, but the view of the valley and west mountains were great.  We still swim about three times a week; we have been joined by some ducks and had rain sprinkles fall once as we did our laps.  We had rainbows on our trailer ceiling one day reminding us of God’s promises and bringing big smiles as we tried to figure out where they were coming from (still not sure and it has not happened again).

Some things that you take for granted in our pre-pandemic days have proved to be a challenge.  The Goodwill-type stores are closed (swim suits and cooler clothes), and who would have thought that yarn would be hard to find!  Over a week’s time we were out 4 times to get the yarn needed for Connie’s new baby blanket project for our newest granddaughter due in June.  Three trips to 2 different Walmart stores, online research, order made, order cancelled out of stock, more online research, ordering for pickup at a JoAnn Fabric 30 minutes away, and 2 big balls of baby yarn were on hand!  This was a test of patience and perseverance, answered prayers, and now contented crocheting.

On days off from roofing we usually take a leisurely morning walk to the clubhouse where they have free coffee and hot chocolate.  Our hummingbird feeder is very popular and they are getting quite used to John hanging around.  He climbed up onto the trailer bumper with his head about an arm’s length away, hearing them buzz by his head as they came for their bedtime snack.  Occasionally we are able to sit outside at night as the sun sets, enjoying the breeze.  Spring is here and we have birds nesting in a bush behind the trailer and 7 tiny ducklings in the park pond.  Just when we thought the flowers were through, there is more beauty, color, and fragrance here in the desert!

12 2020 04 FlowersAnother milestone in life, John received his first social security check (early retirement) this month!  After many hours of online research, a new cordless drill, circular saw, battery, and charger have been purchased over the last few weeks.  (His $3 auction saw and cordless drill have some issues and don’t always work properly.)  Ebay is wonderful when it comes to saving money over store prices!

We make a weekly trip to the rescue mission on Wednesday mornings to get our “free food” box that always has lots of surprises.  We are stocking up (two large bags now) and still have extra to pass along.  One surprise was Granny Smith apples, about 10 pounds!  Connie has been very creative and made applesauce (in the insta-pot) that turned out very well.  Our 5+ year old juicer has been working overtime and the switch broke, thankfully at the end of the process.  We took it apart, researched a new switch, tracked down UPS for two days, finally got the part, have it back together, and it works – carrot juice again!

Our closing thoughts and prayer for each of you:

Each of you has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others ~ so use your gift well.  If you have the gift of speaking, preach God’s message.  If you have the gift of helping others, do it with the strength that God supplies.  Everything should be done in a way that will bring honor to God because of Jesus Christ, who is glorious and powerful forever.  Amen.  1 Peter 4:10-11 (Contemporary English Version)

Thanks for traveling with us and supporting us with your thoughts and prayers!

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 –
Facebook – Salty Strings Music Ministry                         Web site:

ONLINE DONATIONS via PayPal through our web site


  • May – Indio, CA – Church roof project; unknown location May 30-June 3
  • June 3-4 – Travel to Pacifica, CA
  • June 8-30 – Pacific Bay Christian School, Pacifica, CA (west central)
  • ? July 2-August 27 – Warm Beach Senior Community, Stanwood, WA (north west)
  • ? September – tentative month off, Washington or Oregon state
  • ? September 21-24 – SOWER reunion, Turner, OR (north west)
  • ? September 25-October 29 – Aldersgate Camps and Retreats, Turner, OR (north west)