Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and has made the Lord his hope and confidence. He is like a tree planted along a riverbank, with its roots reaching deep into the water – a tree not bothered by the heat nor worried by long months of drought. Its leaves stay green, and it goes right on producing all its luscious fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8 The Living Bible
Praises – This season of rest; sleeping in; some CraigsList items gone, more space and less weight; family members who had Covid; monetary blessings received.
Prayers – Health and healing for family members; trailer parts; concert Leesburg (rescheduled).
Hello to our friends, family, and followers:
We had a leisurely journey Monday, January 3, from Leesburg to a bit north of Thonotosassa Florida. We took the back highways seeing lots of cattle and bulls with horns in the fields. One “old” highway was a bit neglected and bumpy. On arrival we found our site to be difficult to get parked. Thankfully there was no one behind us and we were able to pull through. After several attempts we settled with their old power meter fitting between two slides. Getting out will be a bigger job!
Along the way we passed Richloam Clay Sink Road with signs leading to the Rochloam General Store, founded in 1922 as the store, post office, and train depot until 1936. Further research found the building being restored in 2016 and reopened, as a post office and State Historic Site, in 2017.
We made a connection with the park activity director and found we could contribute special music and Connie could play her keyboard with the organist for the church services here, and we scheduled a concert for February 6. We found Lazy Days RV parts/service a short drive away and ordered our trailer parts, but never received a confirmation and found the parts were not ordered after visiting again towards the end of the month. Our 2nd day here the water was off with a water main break, thankfully we had enough water in our trailer to carry us through. Water line breaks should come with advance warning! There are plenty of scheduled and special activities going on and John has been to jam sessions and open mic night while Connie gets to play card games with our Indiana friends and BINGO at the recreation center (she actually won one game).
Our weather this month has been interesting with some hot and muggy days and a few cold and dreary days. One night we had wind gusts 30-35 mph as a front pushed in from the north. We used our furnace several nights (switching over from our heat pump around 3am) and had two mornings with power fluctuations where our electric surge protector tripped meaning a minimum of 2 minutes to turn back on; quite frustrating. We were mostly in the 70’s during the day and our overnight low was 28, but NO snow or ice!
Although we haven’t gotten back into the recording this month, we were contacted by the activity director when the group cancelled for their “pass the hat” concert on January 9. Within 24 hours we put together a set, unstrapped the instruments, practiced, played, and received several compliments from the listeners; very encouraging for us. A Bible Study started up mid-month and we were asked to provide a song or two to start, that was quite enjoyable as well (the music and the study). You may also notice we are experimenting with a few video clips online as well – one from the concert, the other testing our new sound equipment taken with a tripod and our phone in the trailer.
We have known for a while and been praying about what to do with our 20+ year old sound system that is starting to fail and has some quirks. We started doing some research, stopped by a Tampa music store where we could look at some microphones, and finally ordered a few things. The new equipment arrived bringing several days of trailer turmoil as we hooked up cords and tested out our new toys, including some home videos to see what we sounded like. We now have a new stand bag, wireless earpiece mics, and a more compact sound/speaker system. It weighs a bit less than before but each speaker is carried separately so it seems a lot lighter. We found we can pack the complete sound system and probably all our instruments into the back seat of the truck, wonderful! Debut “live” test will be our February concert here in the recreation hall.
Connie “sold” her last stained-glass piece at the concert so she eventually got everything out, sorted and cleaned the donated glass, made patterns, cut pieces outside, set up the grinder, and found it is getting easier with the pieces fitting together better. Foiling is still challenging but soldering is getting easier with 7 pieces (crosses and hearts) in process for our scheduled Leesburg concert at the end of January. This concert was cancelled due to inclement weather so she got a reprieve and an extra week to finish up, good since she didn’t start soon enough.
Typically, we have a church in mind to attend for our stay and we went there our first Sunday. The Pastor was out with Covid so there was a good recorded message. We talked with a few folks but never heard back from anyone. The second Sunday we stayed here in the park, and the following Sunday we went with our friends to a large Baptist church 10 minutes “down the road” with a Sunday School small group after the service. Our last Sunday in January we stayed here at the park again. Both times here we shared a special music song and Connie played her keyboard with the organist for the hymns.
The park has a relationship with a Bible University giving students a chance to preach here and both student messages were great, giving us things to think about. The first message from Jeremiah was about our roots – deep roots will reroute around obstacles, keep us from giving in to temptations, and give us nourishment and completeness. Turns out this message was repeated in devotions throughout the month. The second message was on our response to adversity (those obstacles perhaps) and was from Job. Three examples were given: Job’s wife responded with emotion, Job’s friends with fault-finding, and Job responded with integrity and praise. Lots to meditate on.
Of course, after hearing some good messages, the obstacles and adversity come. Early in our stay John found the underbelly storage floor was wet. After removing some divider walls the drip was coming from the shower faucet area, completely non-accessible to work on. Things were dried out and it seemed to go away but, just in case, he fashioned a paint tray to catch the water if it happens again, wrapped plastic around the bottom of the dividers, and caulked around the faucet. We’ll check it again after rolling down the road. We also have a water hose pressure reducer that has been on our hose since December 2019. The last several months we have not needed it but can’t get it off the hose – it was finally unstuck with the help of our neighbors.
While in Zephyrhills (about 15 minutes north) for a shared branch credit union, we found ourselves off-roading in our truck. To get from the far west part of town to Hobby Lobby in the north we took city streets rather than highways. Mistake – these “appear to be streets” on the map program turned from gravel to dirt to mud with a hand-painted sign “do not continue unless you have 4-wheel drive – you will get stuck.” We got backed up in the mud, turned around, back-tracked, and continued a different way, still having to do a short stretch of mud road before arriving; the truck running boards are still carrying a bit of mud!
Our exercise this month has been hindered by the weather and condition of the pool, quite dirty with green slime the first week (very warm though and we did swim a few times). It was shock treated and didn’t open back up for several days, then the heater wasn’t working well taking another few days to finally reach 73, too cold for us to swim. In the mean time we take several walks and bike rides within the park, seeing a huge full moon rising on one evenings’ walk. We rode our bikes to the State Park dirt roads, continued to the Hillsborough River, and saw what we believe to be a 10’ plus alligator (3-4’ wide) in the weeds across the river. People kayak and canoe through that area quite often, scary to think about.
We have had plenty to eat this month – twice at a Mexican restaurant, Golden Panda Chinese Buffet (it’s been a long time, really good food too!), Martha’s (diner-like with great prices and lots of food). We have also reconnected with our Indiana friends for a chili supper, a “Country Club” dinner with a High School classmate of John’s brother, and lunch made for us with a Florida violinist friend. She lives in a house on her son’s farmette with goats and open-range chickens that provided a colorful assortment of eggs for us to bring home. One of our Mexican meals was with Ethiopian missionaries Jim and Sherry Rankin with lots of stories of the ongoing war there and how God is working to share the salvation story with them. Connie is also continuing her culinary experiments; this month was eggnog, beef stew, split pea soup (successes) and using the air fryer with biscuits and cornbread (still not quite right).
With all that is going on it was great for Connie to be able to volunteer serving at the first “dinner” here at the park; she enjoyed this and the left-over stuffed chicken breast was great. Later we attended an omelet breakfast where one person cooked over 84 custom omelets in less than an hour. Connie noticed he could use some help, offered, and got the cooked omelets to their owners so he could keep cooking. We’d like to think it was her “servants’ heart” but perhaps it was just hunger with about 50 omelets ahead of us. We are now comfortable with no set schedule, and sleep in several mornings to 8 or 8:30 (that’s late for Connie). Probably not a good habit to develop but this is “vacation” right?
From messages and devotions this month we believe we are to develop our roots by growing deeper in our faith during this season of rest. We are like trees planted in this spot for this season. Our roots grow by acting in faith and trusting God. Trust is never passive but always in motion, being exercised and stretched, and leads to peace. May this find each of you at peace as well.
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy, without holiness no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14 NIV
Please keep us in your prayers . . . and THANKS for traveling with us!
John and Connie Nicholas, Salty Strings Music Ministry
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
- Jan 3-March 3 – Time off, River Palms, Thonotosassa, FL; friends, music engagements
- March 3-4 – Travel to Conyers, GA (east Atlanta) for a volunteer project
- March 5-31 – Volunteer SOWER Project east of Atlanta
- April 1-28 – Travel to French Camp, Mississippi for Volunteer SOWER Project
- May-June – Unknown, traveling to Illinois and Wisconsin