The Salt Shaker – August 2022

“I will still be the same when you are old and gray, and I will take care of you.  I created you.  I will carry you and always keep you safe.”  Isaiah 46:4 Contemporary English Version

Praises – Memories with old and new friends in the Carlinville, IL area; truck starting trouble fixed, good experience; mobile RV service found; safe traveling; prayers of so many

Prayers – Mobile RV service follow through; recording and getting songs to web page; consistency in exercise and losing weight, self-control

Hello to our followers, friends, and family:

On our arrival in Carlinville, IL we were rested and ready to volunteer, however the camp was finishing up their last ‘over 1200’ week of camp ready for a break!  There was still lots to do in maintenance and John had his list within a few days.  Connie stayed with the kitchen staff and other volunteers and found things to keep busy, mostly in sorting out the stock shelves.  Things like alphabetizing spices (in stock and in the kitchen), getting all like products in the same area, and bringing older items to the front.  With smaller groups most of the preparation was handled by other volunteers, but she was able to slice and pan up dinner meats several mornings, giving her shelf-stocking sore arms a break from lifting heavy boxes. 

John’s list was much longer and varied.  He worked with others sometimes and alone on other tasks, calling someone to help as needed, and made a few “parts” runs into town.  He started with helping “change out” the 600 floor rooms (from bunk bed dorms to hotel style) mostly putting the TV’s back up and the lamps back in the rooms.  There were a few days at the “duplex” with some outside gutter work, attic rewiring and running new wiring for garage lights.  There was frustration (spacing, studs and screw sizes) putting up 3 new key boxes in the maintenance office.  He assembled some “permanent” park benches (which were very heavy), helped straighten a hoop canopy building frame, cleaned vents, switched out a washing machine, and repaired lots of vacuum cleaners which are supposed to have notes telling the problem.  Many of the notes were simply “doesn’t work” typically socks, plastic bags, scrunchies, etc. causing a plugged-up suction tube.  He could always count on a vacuum cleaner repair to fill in a few extra minutes here and there. 

John was introduced to their new platform lift truck while working with the hoop frame and actually got to drive and use it for a few days.  He removed the old damaged metal trim (about 20’ up), painted several 4×8 sheets of plywood, cut the plywood for length (64.5”), and with another helper put the new sheets back up.  The biggest challenge was parking the lift in a very tight area around electrical panels; he succeeded, prepared the area, but couldn’t get it close enough to put up the new sheets safely – the only unfinished item on his list.  

We provided 112 hours of volunteer labor this month along with lots of interaction with old and new friends.  There were many meals out at restaurants, in homes, and at the Dining Room at the camp, all of which we could be “salt and light” as well as being encouraged ourselves.  Our attempts at consistent exercise didn’t succeed, we certainly need more self-discipline, and the hot and humid weather didn’t help.  There were a few rain showers and thunder storms, nothing threatening, a few bike rides and walks, and we even tried swimming but the indoor pool heater was not working (we did have a great shower though).

Shortly after our arrival John’s new bicycle arrived and he had it put together fairly quickly (he’s had lots of practice now).  He was discouraged at first, the tires wouldn’t fill, but found the next day it was operator error.  Both bikes were adjusted, tweaking the seat and handlebar heights and brakes, and Connie even made it all the way around the “circle” once. 

Connie’s goal for the month was stained glass.  She was able to do the cutting outside (shade and weather allowed her to be outside until 1 pm), and the rest could be done inside in the air conditioning.  Eventually her goal of 8 suncatchers was complete, just a few too many to do at one time.  She tried a new “mosaic” cross pattern that used up a lot of scrap glass and turned out quite nice.  She also got serious and tied in all those yarn ends on the scrap yarn shawl – guess it will have to be some new projects now.

Our humming bird feeder was found less than 24 hours after putting it out and we had entertainment from them the whole month.  John removed the inside screen and we have lots of photos of them dive-bombing each other and swirl dancing (both of which are likely mating moves showing off their strength and agility to each other).  A friend from Wisconsin visited for a few days with all this activity behind his head, every time he was ready to take some pictures they would disappear!  We captured them in a 3-minute video which we hope to get edited and posted to our web site and/or Facebook.  By the end of the month there were two gaggles of Canada geese migrating through the area and John brought in two dark red maple leaves right before we left (one was soaked and flattened for our memory book).  

Our “home church” when we are in Carlinville is Memorial Christian Church where we attend Sunday School, worship, and evening Bible Study.  We are always blessed to be here.  Our first Sunday there were goodbyes to a row of new faces to us.  After seeing crop dusting helicopters in July, here was a whole row of several employees of a Kentucky/Tennessee based dusting company, many with a Mennonite background.  Connie, of course, took the opportunity to ask about plane/helicopter colors for crop dusting; the color is determined by the manufacturer! 

We had a Sunday night community concert followed by deserts scheduled at the church.  We included a few slides of the volunteer work we did over the last year and shared the SOWER (Servants On Wheels Ever Ready) ministry along with lots of music.  It was a great evening and we had desert for the rest of the week!  Our last Sunday morning we shared two songs for special music, along with a helper.  There is a talented brass player who has secretly, until now, wanted to play with us sometime so we included him in our planning.  It was great getting to know them better with a meal and practice at his house, and he came to church Sunday morning with his “stringed” trumpet and great improvisation making this really Special Music for all! 

Months ago, when the gas/diesel prices raised, we decided to not travel so frequently; however, we already had our summer months planned out which included a 2-day trip south at the end of August.  We were able to stay an extra day in Illinois realizing it was only one long day’s drive so we had everything ready to go before bedtime.  We woke early to finish the last few things and were on the road at 8 am Saturday morning.  The drive around the south loop of St. Louis went very smoothly, Connie managed to snap a few photos of the arch along with navigating, and we switched drivers twice before reaching Hyati, MO for a fuel stop while still on Interstate highways. 

The partly cloudy skies were great for driving and the roads were quite smooth until the last 100 miles or so.  It was strange seeing dead armadillos on the shoulders just a bit south of St. Louis; passing by the Missouri Safari Park where Connie noticed wildebeest and ostrich (or emu), along with the giraffe on their sign; realized we were traveling the “Rockabilly Highway” in Chester County, TN; and as we skirted around Selmer, TN there was a flowing music staff and notes making Connie wonder if this was the home of Selmer Band instruments.  Although the final stretch of highway had some rough spots, it remained divided 4-lane making our arrival a bit sooner than we thought – we were unhooked and mostly settled at 3:30, finishing our partially melted ice cream, and both in bed by 8 pm! 

(Trivia – inquiring minds want to know, and Google makes it so easy!  Alas, Selmer TN has nothing to do with band instruments.  Conn-Selmer is a subsidiary of Steinway Musical Instruments, manufactured in Indiana, Ohio, and North Carolina in the U.S.  However, Selmer is the home of the Rockabilly Highway Revival next summer (  Highway 45 south, midway between Memphis and Nashville, Tupelo MS and Jackson TN (McNairy County) was ground zero for the cultural explosion that formed rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll music.)

We attended Waldron Street Christian Church in Corinth, MS the next morning, joining the Sunday School class then worship.  We were invited to and attended the evening Bible Study followed by a late meal with a group from church at a local Mexican restaurant.  John had made previous contact with this church and we will be having a concert there next week.  The issues with starting the truck were worse after traveling and many reached out with numbers and contacts if we got stranded; thankfully we made it home (holding our breath a few times) after our many stops on Sunday. 

John was up bright and early Monday morning making calls for the truck and mobile RV service providers.  An appointment was made at a local Chevy dealer where we received great service and the price was much less than we anticipated, the prayers of God’s people are effective!  We did settle on a mobile RV service person, the results of that will be for next month.  Again, another month has begun, we await God’s leading and will give thanks and praise knowing He will use us to be a blessing to this area we are calling “home” this month!

“Ah, stubborn children,” declares the Lord, “who carry out a plan, but not mine, and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit” . . . For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “in returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:1, 15 ESV

Thanks for traveling with us!
We so appreciate your prayers and notes of encouragement!!

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

*August 27 – September 30 – Cross City RV, Corinth, Mississippi
*September 30 – December – SOWER Project, French Camp, Mississippi