The Salt Shaker – November 2020

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  Hebrews 4:16 NIV

Hello to our family, friends, and followers:

Praises – Great to be a part of a “live” worship team and share with special music; John, back getting back to normal; Connie, no further migraine issues; being able to take a few months off the road.

Prayers – Wisdom and patience for RV repairs, appointment January 5; a maintenance man for Youth Haven; music opportunities; recording and health goals.

Our November project found us in the real desert – cracked ground, dusty, dry, and lots of sun.  Our temperatures were upper 90’s the first week, waking to 40’s the second week, and eventually back in the 90’s.  We were hoping to have a few swims in the unheated pool, but it remained far too cold for that!  There was one “rainy” day, a few hours with heavy sprinkles and no accumulation – not like rainy days in the Midwest!  After re-leveling the trailer, we had about 24 hours of dust storms with winds reaching 40 mph and air like a dense fog, but we remained stable.

Our first Saturday was our “group meeting” and tour of the grounds.  We were with two couples we had worked with before along with a newer couple whose son works here.  As we finished our “group meeting” with a walk around the grounds and buildings, we heard lots of goat bleating.  Turns out one of their three goats (Tiny, the smallest) had her head stuck through the fence wires.  Our volunteer time started a bit early with a goat rescue – the four guys rounded up equipment and calming hands while the ladies tried to keep the other goats out of the way and took pictures.  There are also 10 chickens on site, producing wonderful fresh eggs for those who wanted some.

Continuing our trailer repair adventures from last month ~ we completed the main trailer plug replacement for the “shore” line (electric power from the meter) and everything was working fine, for a few days, until the battery power was depleted.  So, back to the battery charger!  After some time with online searches and trailer manuals we will probably need a new converter.  We made a call to a recommended mobile RV company and scheduled their first open appointment (January 5) for a technician to come and trouble-shoot our 4 main problems; battery charging, awning final repairs, brake locking up, and water pump.

John worked with different guys to remove the old playground equipment (buried far too deep in cement), rebuild a rabbit hutch, made a second rabbit hutch, repaired the ramp for the goats and two picnic tables (one with custom railing for rabbit interaction), painted the tables and hutches, and repaired a water line break.  We were a few hours short this month in our volunteer hours due to John’s back going out the last 2 days.  It slowly improved and after 5 days he was well enough to get out and enjoy a trip to the local airport where we had lunch at the Bent Prop restaurant and usually sky divers to watch but it was too windy.  We continued to town to look at trailers and a computer for recording before heading home.

Connie worked with the other ladies to clean, spackle, and paint areas in their “mod” (modular) house, the likely home for the new maintenance man when they find someone.  That included a skylight in the kitchen, two solar lights in the bathrooms, baseboards, walls, closets, and door trim.  Two mornings were spent filing, removing “aged out” folders from the teen files and moving the “new” teens from the kids to the teen files.  Each time she pulled a folder there was a little prayer said for these foster and group home kids.  Some were regulars for a season, others came only once; regardless a life was touched and God’s love shared with each one.  She packed lunches one week for the kids that come on Saturday (they can have up to 15 kids for a day camp now).  The extra time was spent cleaning windows in two of their four dorm lodges, cleaning and organizing the kitchen pantry and toys in the toy room (preparing for Christmas giveaways).  There were a couple of days that she had some sparkles in vision and slight headache, migraine symptoms which hasn’t happened for 30+ years, but it went away quickly.

Our hummingbird feeder went up after a week and was found 2 days later, amazing since you don’t see much life here.  A morning walk past some scrub brush flushed out an amazing rabbit that took about three long bounds followed by one soaring leap, 3-4 feet high and very long, before going back to the three lower shorter bounds.  It looked a lot like an antelope running and there is an antelope jackrabbit, but after some research it was a black-tailed jack rabbit – actually a hare not a rabbit – with extremely long black-edged ears, much larger size than cotton-tail rabbits, and of course a black tail!

Connie was dubbed the “goat whisperer” after spending time trying to get the goats to be more sociable and friendly.  They receive the goats in the spring and the interaction with the kids “tames” them.  (No kids this year with COVID.)  One of our ladies labeled them “persnickety goats” since they wouldn’t eat apples or carrots; not much to bribe or reward them with!  With John’s help Connie was able to get two of the three roped and out of the big pen where they were given some pellets and reluctantly brushed.  Most of their kids come from Phoenix and Tucson and they get to see live farm animals here. 

We attended a First Southern Baptist church in Eloy, AZ.  John played with the worship team two Sundays and we shared a song for special music as well.  We took a day trip to Apache Junction and look at two RV Resorts for our winter sabbatical; choosing a spot and making reservations before heading back for our invite to the home of a couple that had worked with SOWERs while at their home in Alaska.  We had a wonderful meal of reindeer stew, cornbread, and chocolate brownies made with beans.  (Reindeer are overpopulated and have open hunting season in Alaska.) 

We went with another couple to Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch where we were able to feed donkeys, deer, ostrich, goats, sheep, ducks, chickens, rabbits, lorikeets, parakeets, and “pet” the sting rays.  Connie started with the goats (who tried to eat her hat), moved onto the rabbit and sting ray feeding frenzy, and finally wised up using a seed covered stick for the parakeets!  John took on the ostrich using the tube method after a hard peck to his hand, on to the determined ducks, then the beautiful lorikeets who removed the lids of their cups and hopped around on his shoulder and arm.  DQ blizzards were our supper that evening.  Other entertainment included numerous campfires (some with hot dogs and/or smores), a few potlucks with the staff, and traditional Thanksgiving dinner for 11.

Christmas came early this year!  Connie spilled broth into the wrong parts of her fancy rice cooker which fried the wiring.  Within 2-3 days she ordered our sound interface bundle for recording, purchased a new coffee pot for John and a larger instant pot (with yogurt and cake settings) on sale!  We have enjoyed great yogurt, rice, and beans; and are awaiting delivery of a cake pan to be able to cook bread, cakes, and perhaps even try bagels. 

The Friday after Thanksgiving found us on the road for the 2-hour trip north east to Apache Junction.  There were cotton and alfalfa fields across from the youth camp (Arizona has the best irrigation system) and we passed huge cotton bales on our way.  About 15 miles away from our destination we were aware of the trailer brake locking up again, we pulled over and backed up to release it, but by the time we arrived it was squealing every time we stopped.  John was able to back into our spot, a tight fit, and get things mostly set up before we rewarded ourselves with a trip to the hot tub.  We officially registered on Monday, November 30th to start our three-month winter stay.  Connie has joined the plastic mat class, folding and cutting Walmart-type bags in strips for “plarn” (plastic yarn to make 3’x6’ crochet mats for homeless) and our Christmas lights are actually up early!  Our goals are to learn home audio recording and finish 10-12 songs over the next three months along with walking several miles each day, swimming several times a week, and working up to a weekly hike and bicycle ride on one of the many trails in this area. 

May each of you and your families have a blessed and wonderful Christmas!
John and Connie Nicholas, Salty Strings Music Ministry

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.”   Philippians 4:8-9  NIV

Contact Information:      Mail can come directly to us in December and January
John and Connie Nicholas, Golden Sun RV Resort #E32,
999 W Broadway Avenue, Apache Junction, AZ  85120

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

  • November 27- February 27, 2021 – Time off, Golden Sun RV Resort, Apache Junction, AZ; being mentored in music recording in our trailer and perhaps a new CD
  • March – heading back to the Midwest to see our friends and families