The Salt Shaker ~ March 2021

Praises – Safe travels and arrival; new friends in Arizona; the comforts we take for granted.

Prayers – Our physical bodies to be strengthened and prepared for the work before us; listening and following God’s leading in ministry while in Texas; protection during spring winds and storms; changed lives for kids, youth, and adult groups that will be attending Lake Lavon Camp.

Because of this, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but the only one who is anything is God who makes it grow.  The one who plants and the one who waters work together, but each one will receive their own reward for their own labor.  We are God’s coworkers . . .  I Corinthians 3:7-9a  CEB (Common English Bible)

Hello to our followers, family, and friends:

Howdy all y’all!  We’re in Texas now and ready for our April volunteer work at a “new” SOWER project.  More about that next month.

So, March continued our “vacation/time off” patterns, along with getting more comfortable in our new home.  We figured out how to adjust the vents to keep all our rooms most comfortable, used the electric heat pump for heat overnight, started the electric fire place to take the chill off “downstairs” in the morning, used the air conditioning much less, and used less electricity than before leading to a much lower electric bill. 

Connie continued in the plastic mat class, finally completing a 3’ x 6’ mat before we left at the end of the month; finished a free-form design stained glass candle front that she used to better her skills for cutting and soldering; and she started and spent many hours on her large stained glass project, to remain a secret for now until it is finished and delivered.  Because of limited “class” time, she tried to work outside but the wind and weather didn’t cooperate very well, then realized she could get a key to the wood shop and had a very spacious stained glass set up for a few weeks.  Connie also got our new vehicles titled and registered in South Dakota so we could transfer our license plates before traveling, several days of calls and forms going back and forth.

John focused on getting rid of things and packing/repacking the truck and trailer, accompanied by a lot of thought and prayer for practically accessing tools and weight distribution.  He also completed a few shelves in the office/music room for our recording speakers and computer.   We picked up our SOWER friends at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport one afternoon, and John drove and survived the trip!  Amidst all the busyness, God blessed him (and Connie) with some wonderful words for a song that has been “in-the-making” for several years.

Our patience continued to be tested with things breaking or going wrong.  March 1 the main TV quit receiving a signal from the antenna.  (We are spoiled having 2 TVs, really more of an inconvenience.)  The tonneau cover on the truck started jamming in the middle, we straightened and tightened the track, not making it any better, and agreed to use some manual assistance to make it work.  John had a flat on his bicycle, easily repaired with a super duty inner tube.  And a few days before leaving the microwave quit; that really makes one appreciate what we take for granted every day.

With all the move-in boxes cleared there were quite a few things for the RV Resort “free” table, Goodwill, Craigslist, and the resort yard sale.  We prepared ourselves and woke up to cloudy skies, a few sprinkles, and lots of wind.  The morning started at a very cold and damp 45 degrees, eventually making it to 55.  We took shifts, getting chilled to the bone, and did a lot more talking than selling!

Our Monday night Bible studies continued with our final gathering including a fire pit, communion, and anointing (a retired pastor led our studies).  We continued biking/walking to church and Sunday School classes, having lunch with a special couple before we left (she also made some fantastic cookies for our travels).  One Sunday we accompanied our worship leader music friends to their church in Sun City (about an hour away).  It was a wonderful service with people from many nations; truly full of like-minded Christian people.  We were blessed by the message and music, as well as lunch.  They usually have a meal following service but this week they celebrated their Pastor’s birthday with a catered meal of salad, roasted potato medley, grilled vegetables, shrimp, salmon, tarragon sauce, and carrot cake!

Early in the month a “resort regular” arrived from North Dakota (Gordy “Crazy Fingers” Lindquist) and shared his talent in a concert.  Later in the month there was a 2-hour gathering, with lots of finger food, and a guitarist sharing a variety of music genres.  We heard the same comments from each of these musicians, as with us; there are almost no places to share our gifts (due to Covid restrictions) and any audience is so appreciated.  We made another trip into Phoenix to help our son with a few more home repairs (and do laundry).  We met our Chinese family (they refer to us as Aunt and Uncle) at their home for a wonderful time of fellowship, an outdoor Chinese lunch where they work, a bicycle ride ending with cold sprinkles, and Connie shared and demonstrated the making of plarn and how to crochet (very interesting with interpretation).  They sent us home with lots of Chinese greens from their garden.  As travel day became closer, there were several more “goodbye” meals, prayers, hugs, and some tears as well.

Travel day 1 we hit the road again, with much prayer to calm our anxious hearts and fears.  With our new vehicles we decided to take the shorter “mountain” route and had no trouble pulling up hills or slowing down hill!  We stopped early on and realized we didn’t plug in our lights or emergency cord (that will be added to our check list soon to be created!).  We traveled through the Tonto National Forest at 4000 feet, still going up, then downhill with our engine brake feature keeping us safe.  There were some really nasty bathrooms at a city park with neighboring chickens and peacocks.  This day included lots of ear-popping, a 13’6” tunnel, cows, cattle, harvested cotton fields, irrigated lush green alfalfa fields, snow-topped mountains in the distance, and we crossed the Continental Divide.  Still learning about our turning radius (or lack of) we went over a few curbs, but missed the landscape rock, getting parked at Walmart in Las Cruces, New Mexico for our first night with open windows for cool sleeping.

Day 2 of travel started with Connie driving through El Paso, Texas.  Temperatures had us driving with the a/c on (91 at 4 pm, but the trailer felt quite cool compared to our previous trailers) with westerly winds registering 16 mph when we stopped for the night.  We were into Texas oil fire pipes, oil wells, sand pits, and wind farms for scenery.  We stopped at an RV park for an electric hookup with temperatures falling to 40 overnight, dodged tree branches getting into our site, then had power fluctuations causing our surge protector to turn off and on several times throughout the night.

Day 3 of travel was even windier (sustained 20 mph most of the day) making for a slower, harder drive.  The “textured” pavement didn’t help either but having green grass most of the way was nice!  There was a stretch of interstate where we had a Deja vu moment – the scenery looked much like the Wisconsin I-43 rest area between East Troy and Milwaukee; same split in the road, hills, and trees.  We stopped at another Walmart, had trouble getting our bedroom slide out as well as sleeping with noisy gatherings and cars with noisy engines.  Lots of prayers for protection and quiet, and God provided! 

Day 4 – our final day of travel – was short and sweet.  Connie drove the interstate south of Fort Worth and Dallas, then turned north through Dallas and Plano, Texas.  We expected to get into country driving, but that didn’t happen as the cities ran together until the final 20 minutes of our trip.  We arrived at Lake Lavon Camp shortly after noon, managed to get the bedroom slide out again, and relaxed as we put a few things away and assessed our travel skills – not too bad for our first travel with new vehicles!  Our curiosity over handling, gas mileage, and maneuvering were all answered.  With the van/trailer we were around 6.5-7 mpg; now 7.3-10.5 mpg!  Before we were down to 35-45 mph going uphill, and feeling pretty unstable over 65; now steep hills 50-55 mph and easy driving at 65-70 mph.  And, we are much better at judging corners and parking, having no problem with curbs after the first day!

God saved us and chose us to be His holy people, but not because of anything we ourselves did.  God saved us and made us His people because that was what He wanted and because of His grace.  That grace was given to us through Christ Jesus before time began.  And now it has been shown to us in the coming of our Savior Christ Jesus.  He destroyed death and showed us the way to have life.  Yes, through the Good News Jesus showed us the way to have life that cannot be destroyed.  2 Timothy 1:9-10 Easy-to-Read Version

Tune in again next month for our volunteer and ministry update!

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


  • April 1-May 27 –Lake Lavon Christian Camp & Conference Center, Princeton, TX
  • June – heading back to the Midwest to see our friends and families
  • July-August – tentative – Northwest Wisconsin; possible music opportunities
  • September-October – tentative – project(s) and family in Virginia
  • November through winter – tentative – Florida