The Salt Shaker – March 2022

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.  2 Timothy 2:15 ESV

Praises – Christian Coffeehouse music; wonderful group of people to volunteer with and a great place to be; good to be back at work in SOWER ministry

Prayers – Project decision for May and travel plans; Connie’s health; music opportunities

Hello to our family, friends, and followers:

Our last night in Florida we received a blessing, being invited for a fantastic dinner that included this wonderful layered salad along with great conversation and no dirty dishes for us.  The next morning we got hooked up, had a wonderful prayer circle and great guides to get out of our lot.  We had lunch plans to meet a couple we previously volunteered with in northern Wisconsin a few years back.  After a several hour lunch in Jasper Florida we continued to Cordele Georgia Walmart for our overnight.  We were slanted a bit more than usual and had to be careful not to fall into the shower on our trips to the bathroom!  We had a shorter drive the next morning to Conyers Georgia, slightly east of Atlanta.  It was a bit stressful and scary getting around the southeast part of Atlanta but there was a warm welcome waiting and beautiful, flat, easy to park spaces.  After minimal setting up we headed out for a late lunch.   

We always hook up our water line with a reducer (regulates the water pressure for the trailer lines), but after our first showers that were more like heavy drizzle, the reducer was removed leaving us with wonderful water pressure.  Monday morning we started “work” and by the end of our second day we were both using John’s vibrating massage chair – boy were we out of shape!

Later in the month we added water to our holding tank for the three nights that were below freezing.  We were fine for water using our pump; however, John was abruptly woken up at 10:30 the second night to switch the LP tanks for the furnace to work (it was 62 in the trailer).  In all our years on the road, there was only once that the LP ran out in the day.

Our drive to church was a bit long, but after visiting the first week we knew it was for us.  We landed at a Reformed Baptist church that was very friendly, had good meaningful songs/hymns with instruments, lots of young families, of moderate size, and communion every Sunday (actually quite a bit like our home church in Lane Illinois, perhaps that is why we felt at home).   A deacon brought the first message, then a missionary from Papua New Guinea, and we finally heard the teaching pastor the last two weeks.  The third Sunday we were invited to a member’s home for chili lunch – the food and fellowship were great blessings to us.  We enjoyed a lovely ride on back country roads with beautiful homes and lakes to Aldi’s for groceries and Publix for fried chicken and ice cream to end this beautiful Sunday.

Connie started with the other ladies in front of the Administration Building to do a landscape makeover before their open house.  There were two mornings of pulling weeds, moving thick ground cover, then digging holes for the various kinds of plants.  Twice the ladies cleaned the lodges for incoming guests, Connie specialized in sanitizing the top bunk mattresses.  Up the ladder, wipe, move ladder, wipe; move to next bunk, repeat; minimum of 32 each time that left the rib cage a bit sore from leaning over the bunk railings.  There was also some cleaning, most memorable one of the boys’ lodge rooms with crushed cereal all over the carpeted floor.  She helped clean the cold air return ducts and bathroom fans, wiped down and tightened a few bolts on the bunks, checked smoke detector batteries, pulled mattresses that the ladies felt needed to be replaced (in all the buildings so staff could determine numbers), washed dining room windows, and helped deep-clean both lodge kitchens.  Our last volunteer day they sorted the lost and found items, washing some, keeping towels and some toiletries for those who forgot to bring them, and we took the 6 large trash bags to Goodwill on one of our shopping trips.

Connie spent most of the month recovering from her bladder infection and was feeling much better by mid-month.  She has had an abscess at the top of her right arm for years that bothers occasionally, but the vent cleaning and window washing made it really sore.  We don’t know what made it get larger but by the end of the month there was a lot of pain.  We will have that checked out once we get to Mississippi.  Connie was able to finish a second plarn bedroom floor runner “carpet” for John’s side of the bed, right before the really cold spell, and used her sewing machine to get the curtains in the bedroom and hallway remade and shortened.  They are much nicer now and she still had time to make some homemade noodles for one evening meal.

John made contact with Awake Coffeehouse, old town Conyers, and we met with the owner and were scheduled for music from noon-4pm on the 19th.  This was great fun for us, acoustic setting, bringing back memories of our early days at the Bagel Shop.  Conversation and whirring machines make it easy to hide mistakes.  Our fellow SOWER couples enjoyed listening and helped us get instruments packed up and unloaded back at home.  We were both exhausted and in bed by 8 pm!  John was able to do a few things towards the end of the month in our “studio” – blending tracks, re-recording, and equalizing; all slowly developing skills.

Throughout the month we watched the trees and flowers start to bloom, saw many cardinals, and lots of little birds passing through.  The pine trees let us know spring was here with yellow pollen dust covering everything.  We planned a day outing for clothes shopping; John needed some new work pants from Tractor Supply and new shirts from Goodwill.  Our last work day we were finally able to have a fire circle, no favoritism with smoke drifting to all, and ended the evening with a full prayer circle as the first couple left the next morning.  Connie saw the first robins of this year (March 26) and the next morning there was a pair of Canada geese on the pond behind our trailer.

All the men worked together the first day removing plastic “windows” from the tabernacle for summer use.  They then tackled a rebuild of the volleyball court including pulling weeds from the sand, bringing home a bunch of wild onions (not very tasty), setting boundaries with a transit level, digging out for the 16’ 6×6 timber edges, moving each timber and staking then adding 2nd layer, finally moving and leveling the sand which became very heavy when it rained the last 45 minutes of the day.  Indoor work was at a resident house renovation: drywall removal, framing, rebuilding pocket door frame and installing hardware for the door, putting up drywall sheets (walls and ceilings), learning new ways of patching, and some work mudding.  John said any volunteer work is fun when you can start playing in the sand and end playing in the mud!

We were able to provide two devotions and a special song to close out this work project.  Connie enjoyed the weekly game night.  John took a Friday morning to himself with a newspaper, as expensive now as the Sunday papers used to be, and breakfast at IHOP.  He also did a few hilly bike rides and lots of long walks up and down the gravel roads of the camp.  Connie joined the last few days of our stay, finally feeling a bit better and having more energy.

We actually planned two outings for the last week of our stay.  About 30 minutes to the north is Stone Mountain where we wanted to see the Carillon and hike the mountain.  We heard it was a mile hike up but did not know it is more like a climb than a hike!  After stopping three times for a break (Connie) we made it to the top, purchased some lemonade and a salted pretzel, then started the trek down with a few zig-zag spots to keep from sliding.  From there we drove, parked, and walked a bit to see the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial Carving, completed in 1972 (much better than the photo shows).  We journeyed on, parked, and walked again to the Carillon for the supposed 4pm taped concert.  Although we didn’t hear anything it was very interesting, even though our strength was dwindling.  The weather was perfect.

We took a day of rest for our tired feet, legs, ankles, and knees then traveled about 20 minutes southeast to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, a community of Trappist Monks.  It was quite interesting to learn about monks over the years and see how they lived.  We went from there to Aldi’s to stock up with non-perishable food for next month (nearest in Mississippi is 90 miles), then back to the trailer to start packing up.

We had several rainy work days each week, with temperatures ranging from 28 to 80.  There was one day that Connie wore socks!  It was great being in a rural woodsy setting, enjoying the cool fresh evening air, and hearing the frogs and cicadas as you fell asleep.  Of course, you would wake up cold, get up and shut the windows, and have the heat turn on by morning.  It’s a wonderful life!!  March 31 found us waking to a text message from our daughter in LaCrosse Wisconsin claiming a missed April Fool’s joke with snow on the ground.  We know that God doesn’t make mistakes or have poor timing, that snowfall was for us to enjoy in picture form.

However, we possess this precious treasure, the divine Light of the Gospel, in frail human vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves.  2 Corinthians 4:7 AMPC (Amplified Bible, Classic Edition)

Thanks for traveling with us and supporting us with your thoughts and prayers!

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
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  • April 4-28 – French Camp, Mississippi for Volunteer SOWER Project
  • May – Tentative, SOWER Project south of Nashville Tennessee
  • June, July, August – Unknown, traveling to Illinois and Wisconsin