The Salt Shaker – October, 2020

“For God is fair, not unjust; He will not forget the work you did and the love you showed for him in His name by helping and serving His people.  And He will remember that you are still helping and serving them.  Hebrews 6:10 (The Expanded Bible)

Hello to our followers, friends, and family:

Praises – For those that support us with prayers and funds; safe travels amongst winds and stressful conditions; opportunities to share music; phone and text messages work again!

Prayers – Wisdom and patience for RV repairs; comprehending minds for recording software; patience as we learn new ways of doing things

We remained at YMAM (Youth With A Mission) outside Chico, CA for most of October, enjoying an ice cream social, root beer floats, a family cookout (the 2-week quarantine ended for the Family Discipleship Training folks), and weekly worship times.  Our “boss” took us out to eat before we left and we were invited to a home cooked Italian meal by one of the missionaries; Fiorlisa shared a lot about Italian culture and meals as we had several courses served to us, along with lots of conversation with all the places she had been to. 

We took a few days at the end of September to rest and refresh, had our Sunday hike on Connie’s birthday, then went back to work on the cabin remodeling.  George is the new maintenance lead, on staff, and will be moving into this slightly larger cabin on “Hummingbird Hill” once it is complete.  Our goal was to have all the plumbing complete (so no one else had to crawl around in the crawl space) and the bathroom in working order.  With 156 combined volunteer hours we almost made it!  (One missing part for the toilet.)  We had a lot of fun and were joined the last two weeks by a Mission Builder which made things come together quickly.

John did a lot of crawling around in tight quarters, over and around rocks and boulders, a few places just barely clearing the floor joists.  He did have a friend (whom he never met) that helped keep him entertained.  Some “critter” kept putting his trinkets back on the rocks after John cleared them off.  Some of his collection returned to the same places, and John added a few things (shiny electric wire, old cat collar, and an old pen) that eventually were placed with his favorite foil ball! 

All the PEX plumbing was pulled into place, connected, and tested with only minor leaks to be fixed.  John then connected the drain pipes and “snaked” out the auxiliary sewer pipe for maximum performance.  He also used old baseboard and boards to make what was needed for wall and floor trim, so it matched the old trim in the bathroom and bedroom.  It was also his steady hand that finished trimming the bathroom tile as well.

Connie had various tasks, most dealing with taping, mudding, sanding, and texturing the new areas of drywall (adding a hand print for George to find).  She installed the ceramic tile in the bathroom, the shower light, and painted all the new areas along with a few ceilings too.

We kept track of the various groups of deer, typically 4 or 5 near the trailer, and once 14 with two 4-point bucks near the cabin.  One afternoon as she was finishing up the newsletter mailing, she had 3 deer outside our “dining/office” window!  Our turkeys grew quite a bit, but we lost two by the end of the month.  The humming birds continued to be entertaining, and before we left John was able to stand near the feeder with several flying by and sitting on the line watching him.  There were also lizards (or geckos), a ground squirrel preening herself on the rock edges of a hole in the wall, and a walk one evening finding the YWAM field of goats and llamas.  Most evening walks had clear skies, lots of stars, and even a shooting star!

We returned from our Oregon visit/vacation with new knowledge that the very popular “Dutch Brothers Coffee” shops give free coffee to first time visitors.  On one of our trips to town we waited in line and received great tasting free coffee and chai tea!  (We forgot to mention last month that Oregon has no sales tax, a shock to find the price listed is actually what you pay, as well as attendants that pump your gas for you, it is state law!)  However, California has Sinclair gas stations with the big green dinosaur (how many remember that!). 

We finally received the awning fabric the last week we were there, and the mobile RV repair man and his son arrived one morning to get it installed.  We asked the 6’4” Mission Builder to stick around that morning to help out and he was really needed getting it put back up, followed by an hour or more trying to figure out why one arm wasn’t working properly.  So, we finally had an awning we could put out, but it doesn’t retract property.  We can put it into a zip-tie loop to keep it semi-closed but have to tie it down tightly to travel.

The last two Friday’s we were able to play a few songs and share the stories behind some of them with the elementary kids from their school.  Then we would hold the instrument and let them strum and “play” the autoharp, bowed psaltery, mountain dulcimer, and hammer dulcimer.  They also shared some of their Scripture memory songs with us.  The school is following the themes and scriptures that their parents are studying.  A high school student asked Connie to help her learn a song on recorder for her sister’s birthday (4 days away).  They met one afternoon, both learning a lot, and our old tenor recorder now has a new home.

Would this be the home or work address?

We split up our 3-day drive to Arizona, leaving on a Monday morning and spent an overnight in Bakersfield, CA at an RV park.  Tuesday travel was through the “grapevine” winding through the mountains around Los Angeles and on to Indio, CA.  John started driving for the hilly part and it was still harrowing going down the hills; the final long downhill run into Santa Clarita had a few shudders and some smelly brakes by the end.  Connie drove for a while after that, and had a truck and a few cars motioning us over, getting the idea that there was smoke from the last car.  We pulled off into a Walmart parking lot at the end of the ramp finding a very hot, locked up trailer brake.  We backed up, heard the brake release, and let things cool off for about an hour.  Connie continued driving around Los Angeles, using the brakes as little as possible, and driving in some strong sideways winds with multiple semi-trucks tipped over.  The brakes didn’t have any further problems as we continued to a three-night stay in Indio where we visited with church friends.  This was the same park we were at for April-May and our first night we enjoyed a swim, hot tub soak, large gas fire pit and fireworks (the Dodgers won) to celebrate our arrival (or survival?). 

We had wonderful visits and great swims, but trailer problems crept into the mix as well.  We had a check light on our refrigerator and a power brown-out late Thursday night that we researched and slept on.  The purchase of a new battery before we left Friday morning fixed that problem.  We traveled on to our new home near Eloy, Arizona arriving around 4:30pm.  By 5:30 we had the trailer set up and plugged in, had just sat down for supper, and there were snapping sounds and smoke where our electric plugs in!  We pulled it apart Saturday, tried to find parts nearby (parts departments are closed at RV services on Saturday) and ordered them on Sunday.  We ran extension cords to run fans, borrowed a battery charger so our RV lights and refrigerator would be functional, and learned to rough it without a TV, microwave, and hot water.  Daytime temperatures were in the 90’s, cooling to 65-70 overnight, with parts not arriving until Wednesday!  It was a very long hot five days, especially for Connie, but we managed and had everything working again by noon Thursday (November 5).  You will have to tune in next month for the rest of this ongoing story!

From the darkness into the light!

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; I will fear no one.  The Lord protects me from all danger; I will never be afraid.” . . . “His life is the light that shines through the darkness – and the darkness can never extinguish it.”   Psalm 27:1 Good News Translation and John 1:5 The Living Bible

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 –
Facebook – Salty Strings Music Ministry                        
Web site:

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  • Thanksgiving with 3 SOWER couples at Youth Haven Ranch, Eloy, AZ
  • November 27- February 2021 – Time off, Rock Shadows RV Park, Apache Junction, AZ; being mentored in music recording in our trailer and perhaps a new CD
  • March – heading back to the Midwest and our families and friends there