The Salt Shaker – October 2022

God said, “let there be light,” and there was light. God saw the light, and saw that it was good . . . God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good . . . [Genesis 1:3-4, 31 Basic English Bible]  By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the army of heaven by the breath of his mouth . . . For he gave the word, and it was done; by his order it was fixed for ever.  [Psalm 33:6, 9 World English Bible]

Praises – Returning strength and energy; beautiful fall days

Prayers – Reimbursements settled for truck repairs, free phones, credit card fraud; exercise, self-control, good sleep so our energy levels continue to improve  

Hello to our followers, friends, and family:

The October views in west central Mississippi reminded us of Wisconsin with pine and hardwood variety trees and changing colors.  Later in the month there were beautiful swirls of golden leaves falling.  The temperatures varied, one day it was 45 in the morning and 85 in the afternoon!  We had three nights below 32 where we used our gas furnace and disconnected our water.  There was a water puddle one cold morning and we thought the worst; however, we could not find where it came from and it hasn’t happened since.  There were some sad days too – Connie had to wear shoes and socks a couple of days in mid-October!

The guy’s ongoing main project was renovation of an older campus brick “house” that has been used for many purposes over the years.  It is now being repurposed as a counseling center.  There is the Council House, which is the restaurant downtown, and the counsel house where the guys are – a bit confusing at first.  John’s skills included sledge hammering cast iron bathtubs so the pieces could be lifted into the dumpster, tearing out wall and ceiling drywall, remove and replacing all the windows, installing ceiling electric boxes, and what he enjoyed most, repairing and making new window trim.  One of the dormers of this building settled at one point making the window crooked, so the trim had to be custom made (3/4” at one end and 1.5” at the other).  The hope is, once painted, it won’t look as crooked!  He also helped with putting custom skirting around the lake area shower building (used for summer camps), and took a bunch of heavy wood shutters (18) down at a dorm building, reinstalling them after they were painted.

Connie stayed busy this month with brush related work.  The heavy wood shutters received two coats front and back of a gray-black exterior paint before being put back on the dorm by the guys.  In a different dorm there were four bathrooms that received two coats of polyurethane on the frames and eventually the bottom boards of sink cabinets.  The cabinet doors will be new and the drawers will receive new fronts.  The next step was painting all the walls, including the remodeled lighting areas above the sinks.  Connie was just the right height to be able to kneel on the countertop and move around the sinks, still reaching comfortably to get all the trim and surface area.  She cleaned all the cover plates, reinstalled them, and did a quick cleaning of the toilets, mirrors, and surfaces for paint and plaster splatters.  There were a few days where she served the lunch meal to the students and staff, this is one of her favorite things to do at the volunteer projects we visit.

We attended both churches in town as well as two evening services with missionary speakers.  There were many baptisms and decisions, almost like a revival!  One speaker started Cross Mountain Mission in Nicaragua where they provide structure, meals, and education to whatever children come to “school” that day, averaging around 75 students each day.  The second was a missionary from Ukraine sharing current conditions as well as political history and instability this country has had for many years.  There is so much need all around us, local and global, that we should all feel very blessed and thankful. 

Connie spent quite a bit of time this month being creative as well as problem solving.  She kept crocheting “waffle” patterns, even designing a granny square waffle pattern.  There were many calls and follow ups with the truck – the engine light came on 140 miles after DEF modules were replaced.  The diagnostic code was the same, and after a week in the shop they found a pinched harness which was replaced as well as the DEF reservoir.  We (she) then embarked on a mission to recover some of the cost from the previous dealer, with not much cooperation (as well as a heavy southern accent to decipher).  There were also a few calls to get our “free” phones and credit card fraud balance cleared, both ongoing irritants to her.

With such beautiful weather John has been able to sit outside many times and play instruments, sometimes Connie would join and work on some crafty thing.  We enjoyed the Harvest Festival, another beautiful fall-like day, and Connie “dressed up” in period clothing.  She volunteered for the last shift of the day at the Welcome Center and took a dulcimer to play on the front porch as the thinning crowds were headed to their cars.  We could hear the football games and maneuvered around the homecoming floats lining up for the parade as we went to dinner (5 couples) after our final volunteer work day.  The “Panthers” lost their homecoming game but won their final game of the season.

Connie volunteered to take her keyboard to our morning devotion gatherings and enjoyed the early morning walks to practice, she is definitely rusty.  There were a few mornings we accompanied with autoharp.  We joined the jam session towards the end of the month.  We took mandolin, autoharp, and mountain dulcimer and enjoyed playing along with others.

Food was the highlight of the month!  We enjoyed daily lunches with the kids and an evening church meal prior to evening service, usually with missionary speakers.  There were potlucks galore; our SOWER group, an appreciation gathering for us volunteers at the home of a French Camp supporter, the Harvest Festival joint church service, the music jam session, and the last Wednesday evening fellowship in Corinth (where we were in September).  Add in the occasional bakery treats for break time and, with the right planning, we didn’t have to cook much in between.  All this in 30 days along with around 120 volunteer hours, a busy month.

For several months John has been keeping an eye out for cheap real estate possibilities for our times off the road in between projects.  We took a day trip where we looked at several properties, enjoying a beautiful day and church potluck.  The drive north, mostly on the Natchez Trace, was beautiful and relaxing, followed by hikes through some woods and hilly terrain.  The drive home after dark was not so pleasant, the last 10 miles being most challenging:  there were many deer along the roadside with 2 crossing the road in front of us; a possum, fox, racoon, armadillo, swooping huge owl, and one orange tabby cat!  Some close calls, but all critters remained safe to cross the road again.

Our health and strength are still improving.  John had two days in a row of waking with energy, what a blessing.  Connie still has scattered days of no energy and slightly aching body (of course she is another year older this month).  We are finding that cold and damp weather is affecting both of us more.

We could have had plenty of exercise, but motivation is needed for that to happen.  John biked up and down the smaller hill to the highway and back, first bike ride in over a month.  Connie has more chances to walk, heading out early for our morning devotions.  If we make a right turn from our RV area the road goes up a very steep hill that we tried to walk several times a week.  It is getting a bit easier, although we are both out of breath as we reach the top.

God is speaking to us this month, helping us work through future scenarios as well as encouraging us to live where our feet are and see the needs around us.  It is God’s part to “show” us – and our part is to “go”.  We know (but don’t always remember) that God will give us what we need, when we need it, in His perfect timing.    

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

Be glad in the Lord, O doers of righteousness; for praise is beautiful for the upright.  Give praise to the Lord on the corded instrument; make melody to him with instruments of music.  Make a new song to him; playing expertly with a loud noise.  Psalm 33:1-3 Basic English Bible

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 –

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  • September 30 – December – SOWER Project, French Camp, Mississippi
  • January/February – unknown winter stay, possibly Texas, Florida, Louisiana ???