The Salt Shaker ~ January 2023

Everyone will live in peace among their own vineyards and fig trees, and no one will make them afraid.  The Lord Almighty has promised this.  Micah 4:4 Good News Translation

Praises – The work that is completed, new church friends, driveway and RV sites coming soon

Prayers – Bodies to hold up for contortion work still needed, being a blessing to those we hire and work with

Hello to our friends, family, and followers:

To finish off December, we had to have back steps in place and ‘railing’ around the front deck for insurance coverage.  The old fiberglass steps were pulled to the back with the tread strengthened and new, wider steps were built for the front entry.  All the old deck boards were removed, a joist and several stabilizer boards were added, and a combination of new and old boards were screwed back on.  We took a few days off with some sore backs but the finished deck doesn’t wobble, sway, or bounce when walking across it.  During this process the front door quit shutting, the screen door handle broke, and Connie didn’t like the roof drips during/after the rain so we also added a 10’ gutter over the door (twice, needed repositioning to catch more water).   One of the dogs here is an escape artist so we had Bailey’s help on the days he was free.  

January 5 we officially had heat after finding a mobile home HVAC company!  John found the furnace wasn’t sealed underneath with lots of heat escaping so they came back for that and to fix the bathroom vent (which still isn’t right).  We have been cleaning out the vents and trying to seal them up but most have small holes in several spots. 

In general our projects seemed to progress very slowly, just when things were getting accomplished there would be even more to do!  New Year’s Day Connie finished clearing the mobile home, enough for two truckloads to Goodwill and many trash bags.  After finding the water PVC pipe shattered after our 5-day freeze, John proceeded to remove the remnants of insulation, cutting down the spider web threads, and pulling the old pipes – many days and hours in the red clay under the ‘trailer’ as we refer to this part of the property.  We contacted several plumbers with no results then found a plumber lives a few trailers down.  After getting a material list and quote it took two weeks to pull together the parts and we had running water the 28th!  We then decided after a few days of water heater unexplained leaking that we will need to replace it.

John spent most of the month rebuilding and bracing floors and walls.  Starting with the tilting water heater he replaced the floor section and fastened the drywall to the back wall that had been damaged at the bottom.  He moved to the master bedroom adding support around the floor vent, and then rebuilt the wall and floor under the living room window that had the air conditioner unit.  Moving on to the bathroom, he added support under the bath tub and rebuilt around the floor vent.

Along with the major rebuilds John cleaned carpet spots to salvage the bedroom carpets, worked on a closet door and front door frame, scraped the old linoleum and sanded the bathroom floor, rebuilt the pantry lower walls, and took down the blades from 3 ceiling fans for cleaning and reversal.  We came in one morning and found the shop vac wouldn’t turn on, he brought it home, got to the switch, cleaned the connections, and it works again!  He also talked with our neighbor up the road, who happens to own the property to the south of us, and got a good idea of the lot lines.  Eventually he walked through the woods finding all the markers.

We’ve attended two churches this month.  Journey Church (formerly Jones Chapel) is a small free will Baptist church about 8 minutes from our property with friendly people and good messages.  After two weeks we started attending Cross Point Church about 5 minutes from where we are ‘living’ rather than make the commute.  Cross Point is another small non-denominational congregation with lots of musicians for morning worship, testimony, and good messages as well.  We will change up now and then since we love them both and have found good friends in each.

Our second Sunday at Journey Church we were invited out for lunch by one of the elder couples and learned a lot about the area.  Our second Sunday at Cross Point was the ‘5th’ Sunday where they combine Sunday School and Service time for a 2-hour time of worship, testimony, and special music followed by a great potluck with to-go boxes.  The family of God is wonderful in all its many forms!

By the middle of the month John realized his music callouses were vanishing and started picking up some instruments to get them toughened up again.  He was able to practice outside a few sunny afternoons and it was good to hear music again.  We joined Cross Point church worship team sharing our autoharp and bouzouki sounds with their violin, mandolin, keyboard, and guitars and shared two of our songs and stories for special music with Connie playing accordion.

Connie light sanded all the walls and spackled the holes, rebuilding some moldings and ceiling holes in preparation for painting.  She also replaced 3 outlets with GFCI, labeled the electric panel, tore out the old bathroom carpet, tried to move the refrigerator outlet (2” short on wire so it had to be put back), and replaced the screen door handle.  Her other jobs were keeping track of contractor appointments, shopping lists, and trying to sell some unneeded trailer items.

Early in the month our cell phone booster arrived and about a week later we tested it for our RV reception; after several scenarios it didn’t make enough difference to deal with the hassle of it needing to be mobile.  We then tried it at the trailer (where we had no indoor reception) and found it works great!  We now are blessed to communicate with the outside world throughout our work days and can research our problems as they happen.  Our truck also passed 100,000 miles on our way back home, John got to look over Connie’s shoulder and watch as it rolled over. 

We have had many walks around the ‘block’ at the RV site and our property and woods.  The weather has been good and bad and horrible and great – regardless there have been blue birds, cardinals, wood peckers, perhaps purple martin, some sparrow and dove types, deer tracks, and one squirrel.  On one morning commute there was a bald eagle landing in a tree and another day a young deer in the middle of the highway in a sun spot like he owned the road.  Following some warmer days, patches have appeared in many yards of yellow daffodils in bloom (with ice and freezing temperatures the next day).  Early January we headed to Corinth (MS) for a 9-stop errand day and were met with heavy rain, wind, and tornado sirens (which no one was concerned with) for our morning stops.  As in all parts of this world there have been some spectacular sunrises and sunsets too! 

Connie has been quite unmotivated for most of the month but managed a day of creative cooking inspired by using up some sour milk.  Her pie pan chocolate cake was a bit over cooked (microwave) but one was frosted for the potluck and the other she ate with some milk.  One evening she warmed it up, John took it from the microwave to serve his tired wife, and it ended up looking like lots of coffee grounds on the drawers and floor.  Immediately forgiven, Connie sighed and recommended cleaning it up in the morning thinking it would dry like coffee grounds – it dried like glue!  Then there were the ‘hand’ waffles.  While making pancake/waffle batter she had the brilliant idea to cook them on the George Forman grill (a new acquisition from the property) since it had ridges, cooked from both sides, and should crisp up like a waffle.  That didn’t work out very well, turned out like pancakes with ridges or shell fans, interesting for sure.  That cooking day ended with a great batch of spaghetti, pretty hard to mess that up!

We also have a contractor for the driveway/RV sites.  We walked around putting in some flags where we want things to be resulting in a quote (much higher than anticipated).  That led to some meetings with MDOT (Mississippi Dept. of Transportation) and TCEPA (local electric service) for a culvert permit to widen our driveways and electric service procedures for the RV areas.  With good weather (quite unlikely) we could be living on site by the end of February!

John found this wonderful potato friend for lonely cold days while preparing fried potatoes for breakfast one day.  He is just right to move around our kitchen/living room and keep watch over us (this is all natural, just the way he was found).  However, all things must come to an end and Mr. Potato Shark was breakfast a few weeks later. 

As part of the remodel/repair work needed we planned on purchasing some woodshop equipment for John.  Now that the trailer is empty, his early birthday presents can have homes; the 2nd bedroom is shop 2 with saw horses and room to cut paneling and plywood and the master bedroom is shop 1 with his new chop/miter saw and stand.  We made a special trip to Muscle Shoals, Alabama so he could visit a music store and we got 20% off on his new ‘shop’  equipment.

It has been a good month, realizing in looking back that we have accomplished a lot in our many trips and 186 hours (including drive time, lunch, breaks, and walks).  It has been some hard work, rewarding and frustrating.  We have had many conversations throughout to make some major decisions and to encourage each other when it seems this will never be ready to rent.  We realized this month that although we are not working for a ministry through SOWERs we believe God has allowed us to be here and has a purpose for us in this place at this time.  Our prayer is that as we continue this work here, we will be a blessing to others.

Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God.  If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.  Galatians 1:10 New Living Translation

Please keep us in your prayers . . . and THANKS for catching up with our adventures!

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


  • February/March – Huckleberry Hill RV, Iuka, MS – property repairs, rental
  • March/April/May – French Camp SOWER project (another bread mailing perhaps)
  • April/May – Our property Hwy 367 east of Jacinto, MS more property work
  • June – north central Illinois (Carlinville, Clinton) family and volunteer work
  • July – Illinois/Wisconsin (Clinton, IL – Portage, WI) family, volunteer, music

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