Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
2 Peter 1:2 (NIV)
Praises – Achy joints and muscles but still going; no damages from winds, thunder storms, or hail; rain and lots of green around us.
Prayers – Changed lives for kids, youth, and adult groups that will be attending here; camp staff; music opportunities for May and summer months; bedroom slide operation; travel to north central Illinois; finding a range hood to fit our space; trailer tire valve stem replacement.
Hello to our friends, family, and followers:
After introducing ourselves to the camp director at our “new” SOWER project, we were shown to the trailer parking area to make ourselves at home. With the help of another volunteer, we were able to get our 40’10” trailer parked, at an angle, taking up two spots. We checked in advance to be sure we could fit and there are enough empty spaces while we’re here that it worked! The very first weekend there were a few smaller groups using the camp; a real treat to see people gathered and enjoying the grounds. There were fireworks one night, something the camp offers as an option for the groups. John was also invited to attend the Men’s Retreat!
We start our work days with devotion time with the staff. Typically, a chapter of the Bible is read aloud and discussed for about 30 minutes before going into tasks for the day/week and long-range plans for all the to-do’s before camp “opens” for the summer. Quite a long list including counselors, life guard training, hiring a cook, repairs, fixes, and routine things like painting the pool. Definitely plenty to pray for and about.
Easter Sunday found us “up the road” about 10 minutes at Culleoka Baptist Church. Someone explained a few weeks later that the name is Indian for sweet (Culle) water (oka). We went the next week to Sunday School and the evening service which was a hymn sing encompassing all genres of music. The next week we played two special songs with the guitar and hammer dulcimer and offered to do a community concert which was scheduled for May 2. There were several days of practice, getting our fingers toughened up again, deciding on songs, tuning (everything is going sharp with the humidity), and finding pictures to use as background as well as talking about our SOWER ministry. It was fun going back over the years and remembering so many wonderful places and ministries. God always leads us to the right place to learn and worship, no exception here and they have free fresh lettuce, spinach, and radishes as well!
Connie was able to spend most of her time in the office (where it is climate controlled) working on updating the camp mail/contact database. There are six church associations in the camp area, each containing 40-100+ churches to be researched for current contact information as well as staff changes. By the end of the month, she had almost completed four of the smaller associations. There were a few days she got to physically work helping with the flooring, installing 4’ LED ceiling lights with John, cleaning up after the guys, and whitewashing a brick fireplace.
John worked indoors with the Lakeside Hall renovations. That included sink and hot water heater plumbing, flooring and the associated fitting under moldings, cleaning and putting the ceiling fan blades back on, cutting holes and running some wiring in the attic, installing 4’ ceiling and “can” lights, and caulking and painting trim. There were many stiff days and achy nights with sore muscles, knees, and backs but seeing this building getting closer to a beautiful lake view meeting area is worth it all. The last day of the flooring tallied 2 cuts, 2 pounded fingers, 1 hit wrist, sore knees for both of us, and thigh muscles that caused Connie to move gently.
The weather in Texas, especially on the lake front, is very unpredictable. A lot of windy days, coming from different directions, with gusts in the 20-30 mph range quite frequently. We found the awnings over the slides, that help so much with the heat, are very noisy when they flap about from the winds. There have been a few, maybe two, days the lake was calm and smooth as we walked to the office for devotions; by noon the winds were back. Our first severe thunderstorm had Connie on the couch from 10:30 pm to 1:30 am, mostly because of the awning noise. Our second severe thunderstorm came through in the afternoon, causing the trailer to shake a bit, and bringing gravel-size hail, rain, and some pea-size hail later. There have been a few storms since, and Connie in particular, is getting a bit calmer – the gusty winds have always been troubling for her. There has been a lot of rain as well, a whole week where they couldn’t mow, several hot and humid days (Connie’s hair is frizzing again), along with some cool nights in the low 40’s. Guess spring is about the same everywhere!
We are knowing our way around by now. Everywhere you travel ends up on a 2 or 3 lane “county road” through endless cities that merge into one another. We do have Aldi’s again for groceries which is a blessing. We are finding that our shopping days, some with five or six stops, leave us totally exhausted. Several hours were spent making trips and online searches for over-the-range microwaves, finally deciding to get a counter unit and range hood, and build a shelf. One good thing about our shopping days is getting to eat out – and we celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary a few days late with an Olive Garden lunch. It’s been many years since we’ve eaten there. On the way home we realized they have “longhorn” trucks – only in Texas!?
We did manage to get some fuses for the microwave, lasting from two uses to almost 24 hours, before we declared it officially unrepairable. Right before that decision we purchased some Grand’s biscuits to cook in the convection microwave. Connie decided we would have to start the oven, which we finally managed to get to stay lit. A few days later we did some pizza, officially breaking her 5-year 7-month ban on using the oven.
Some of this month included finding niches and putting up some decorative things. Our stick-up hooks are not holding things on the walls – there have been a few bumps in the night to find things on the floor (nothing broken, yet) even using nails/screws. Some hummingbirds found our feeder about a week after we put it out, hanging on tightly as it blew about in the wind. We continue to find changes on our evening walks, our first evening being met by beautiful yellow flowers (they bloom only in the evening) in what we thought was grass/weeds; meeting “Max” the very friendly cat that stalks everything; seeing a blue bird, hawks, egrets, and two geese; lots of pink and very small violet-like purple flowers, buttercups, iris, and blue bells; green fields of perhaps wheat or rye; and lots of goats. Connie does occasionally ride her bike to the office for the morning or for internet. We had one bike ride down the road and around a small cluster of houses with the wind at our backs to start which made the ride home very slow.
Where does the time go? Another month is beginning bringing another SOWER couple for us to volunteer with . . . may God get all the glory!
“make every effort to add to your faith goodness . . . knowledge . . . self-control . . . perseverance . . . godliness . . . mutual affection . . . and love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:5-8 paraphrased (NIV)
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
ONLINE DONATIONS via PayPal through our web site
TRAVEL PLANS AND UPCOMING LOCATIONS
- May 1-24 – Lake Lavon Christian Camp & Conference Center, Princeton, TX
- May 25-27 – Travel to Carlinville, IL
- May 28-June 25 – Lake Williamson Conference Center, Carlinville, IL
- June 25-July 14 – Tentative, Macomb, IL friends and families
- July 14-21 – Tentative, Lane/Decatur, IL friends and families, truck graphics
- July 21–August – Tentative – Northwest Wisconsin; possible music opportunities
- August-September – Tentative – Little Galilee, Clinton, IL; Family Camp
- September-October – Tentative – Manassas, VA area; friends and family