O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? Psalm 8:1, 3-4 NIV
Praises – Successful minor surgery and healing process; lots of music, blessing from church offering; internet at RV site enabling Wi-Fi calling.
Prayers – Continued healing of Connie’s arm; summer travels, wisdom, and ministry; convertor replacement
Hello to our friends, followers, and family:
We had pondered for days what time we should leave on Friday, April 1, to “miss” Atlanta traffic, and decided 10 am should work with only 80 miles to get into and through the city. We got stuck in slow traffic about 15 miles into our journey, a wonderful April Fool’s joke adding about 20 minutes to our trip. We passed by the Eastaboga (Alabama) exit reminding us of our first project in October 2015 where we attended a Baptist church there. There was also some anxiety about going through Gordo Alabama where there is a “low” bridge that even the internet could not give us height or semi-truck advice. We went through town on Highway 82, made it under the bridge, and saved quite a bit of time by not bypassing on smaller Highway roads. Finally heading south on the Natchez Trace, a beautiful drive for our last 25 miles to French Camp, Mississippi, where we had no phone service (along with everyone else) but thankfully blessed with mostly great internet at our trailer.
As with all of us living in this world there are the good and bad days. It was wonderful watching spring unfold with beautiful flowers here. There were horses to see if you walked up the hill, unfortunately that didn’t happen much until the last few days. There were also a few things that made us smile, shake our heads, and wonder what is happening now-a-days. The bad day was finding out that our convertor (takes our plug in “shore” power and recharges our batteries which run our lights) was not doing its job. Fortunately, we have a plug-in battery charger that works to keep our lights on. We removed some panels and did some diagnostic work the last week; unfortunately, we need a new convertor but think we can replace it on our own.
Connie had been in pain whenever her right arm was moved for several days and was rotating aspirin, Tylenol, and Advil (not at all like her). Saturday morning she started calling “NurseLine” and checking insurance covered clinics. The clinic was only 75 miles away however there are no quick routes anywhere in this area of Mississippi; the trip, including getting on the wrong roads a few times, took a bit over 2 hours. They were able to surgically remove the cyst leaving a large, deep and wide incision that John graciously agreed to tend as it healed from the inside out. Not fun, for either of us, nor as quick healing as the doctor indicated. By the end of the month we were able to use a large bandage rather than packing and covering with gauze, and the pain was mostly gone. The phrase in our marriage vows, “in sickness and health, for better, for worse,” was really tested and we both, with God’s grace, grew to appreciate each other even more.
April, a month to celebrate! Our anniversary morning break was great with a card signed by all our co-volunteers and great peanut butter drizzled brownies. April is also tax month, not so great, but once the newsletter was done Connie buckled down and completed our taxes by the deadline. Our first trip down the road about 40 minutes was for gas (Kangaroo Corner) and Walmart in Kosciusko (we never did learn how to pronounce this city). Three other trips were to Starkville about 50 minutes for Lowe’s, Walmart, a Chinese Buffet anniversary lunch, and a music store where John was able to get the action on his Taylor guitar adjusted. Well worth the driving.
Throughout the month we had lots of music engagements. It started with a “jam session” inviting the community, but it fizzled into a concert that went quite well for not practicing or having songs arranged. We went home with a very old autoharp (her grandma had played and used it as a missionary overseas) and a dulcimer missing a string, both to tune and repair. Our second opportunity was the Roy Purvis jam at his home – a tradition for years but health problems has made this harder for him. This too was great fun, two dulcimers at times, the Pastor on guitar, and John switching around other instruments. Kind of a “down home” back porch (but inside), sing-along with the gang.
Easter Sunday we took a guitar and hammer dulcimer to the camp lodge on the lake for Sunrise Service. The weather did not allow the service to be outdoors, so we could bring some music inside for the service. The SOWER volunteers (12 total) gathered for a wonderful ham and potluck dinner in the early afternoon making for a memorable Easter. Then, our last Sunday, a SOWER couple living to the west of Macon, MS, made arrangements with their church for special music at the morning service and a concert for their evening service. We packed up lots of instruments, attended the morning service, had lunch provided by our new friends and another SOWER couple, toured their “farm” including the goats, had a light supper, and were blessed with a good crowd for the concert (followed by snacks and cookies and lots of conversation of course). It was a very full day, but the Lord was with us and it felt good to share our music ministry here and throughout the month.
French Camp has the Rainwater Observatory and Planetarium with a first-Friday viewing open to the public. We went, learned a lot, and were able to see the moon with lots of detail through their telescope as well as clearly seeing the constellations in the sky. This is one of the few places in Mississippi without “light pollution” for good viewing. We shared a few loaves of fresh, hot bread (as well as the wonderful aroma of bread and cookies every day) as we gathered in the Welcome Center for our morning devotions and breaks. We didn’t use much for groceries, enjoying the wonderful prepared lunch at the dining hall and even enjoyed our “Tornado Party” complete with chicken and biscuits, snacks, and ice cream when we took shelter from a possibly damaging storm system. There was also an appreciation breakfast on one of our last mornings – no we didn’t lose any weight here!
In the first week Connie was able to help fold and stuff letters, stick labels to the envelopes, and tape them to individual boxes of “fresh” bread that go out right before Easter – 3000 of them! (A batch of bread here is 170 loaves.) The last two weeks were painting doors in one of the dorm houseparent apartments and trimming out another staff apartment that was totally repainted (with two other ladies trimming and rolling the walls). She also volunteered serving lunch to the students, staff, and volunteers which was lots of fun – the students were very polite and a few could be coaxed to interact a bit, and there were some staff that remarked “You’re the one with the music, it was great!” French Camp has a fall festival where many crafts are sold or auctioned and they receive donations throughout the year of quilt fabrics, craft projects, and this month lots of yarn. Connie sorted out what was left after many others took what they wanted; she kept a baby blanket that had been started, matched the crochet hook size, and is now working on finishing it up for them.
John’s first day was helping out at one of the dorms undergoing a covered porch make-over; cutting, sanding, and kerfing tongue and groove boards while another SOWER installed them in the ceiling. After that John was paired with a different SOWER volunteer – their task was to renovate the bathroom at “413” down the main road a bit which will eventually be a staff house. As with all renovations, this task grew as the floor joists were replaced and leveled, new subfloor laid, plumbing redone and new shower, tub, and fixtures installed. There were a few “oops” moments and lots of crawl space work.
We had a very busy month with 126 volunteer hours and lots of other events. Although we traveled again at the end of the month, we will leave that adventure for our next update!
The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you. They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Psalm 145:9-12 NIV
Thanks for traveling with us and being part of our family!
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
- May –SOWER Project, Chapel Hill Tennessee (south of Franklin)
- June – Tentative Little Galilee Christian Camp, Clinton, Illinois
- July, August – Unknown, Illinois and Wisconsin