The Salt Shaker ~ December 2021

Give ear, O my people, to my teaching . . .things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us . . . We will not hide them . . . but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done . . . so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God . . . 
Psalm 78:1-8 ESV

Praises – Time of rest, spending a few months reconnecting with old friends

Prayers – Family members having difficulty and health problems; trailer repairs/parts completed; ministry opportunities; recording time

Hello to our followers, friends, and family:

December was a wonderful busy, stressful, and restful month “off” of volunteer work.  By the end of the month, we had a semblance of routine but most days were relaxed with no particular time schedule.  About the third morning John found the cause of the slight scratching Connie heard the night before – there was a medium size (to her) lizard on the curtain above John’s chair.  Without alarming his not-so-brave wife, he captured the friendly critter in a plastic bowl, and after the photos, released him outside to our landscaped yard.  We did find our lot to be quite busy and noisy as the days and nights went by with several motorcycles inside this park, a busy county highway behind the trailer, and the entrance/exit road along the side of our trailer.

We kept very busy with music this month.  We were scheduled twice at First Christian Church and once at Leesburg Church of the Nazarene for special music and 10 minute preludes.  Since we don’t have a lot of instrumental Christmas music, we found six carols and adapted them to mountain dulcimer and guitar or autoharp.  With lots of practice we had our 7+ minute medley ready for December 5th.  We had three special music (singing) opportunities and it was hard to decide which old carols to share because we like them all.  We were able to have lunch with several friends, visit some friends from the camp we volunteered at in 2019, enjoy a lunch after church with two retired pastors and their wives, and a working lunch to plan for church service music with one of the Pastors.  We also enjoyed Captain D’s Sunday senior special lunch and were asked on one occasion if we were the couple that played the wonderful music at their church the previous Sunday.  It still amazes us that our simple songs and words are a blessing to others.

Our location (slightly northeast of Leesburg, FL) had lots of lakes, canals, and moisture.  There was a week of 80’s with high humidity where we needed to run the air conditioner, and many comfortable temperature days that we tried to keep fans going but resorted to air conditioning to keep the humidity down in the trailer because our instruments, even in cases, kept going sharp.  We had many weather warnings for foggy mornings with low visibility but eventually the sun would shine through and the days were beautiful.  We walked once or twice a day, zig-zagging through the park roads usually discussing our recording progress or problems.

Connie completed the tutorials from the recording software, learning many short cuts and getting quite proficient in smooth editing.  John spent many hours recording and singing, as well as listening to choose the best parts.  His timing is getting better as he works with playing with some type of rhythm track in the background.  By the end of the month, we had two original songs almost completed. 

Once the bicycles were unloaded and tires pumped up we drove over to Silver Lake where there is a residential road that circles the lake.  We rode around two times, enjoying the fancy houses on one side and the scenery and docks on the other side of the road.  We went to a weekly bonfire at our camp, only once, finding the mosquitoes have a feeding frenzy for about 15 minutes around 6 pm, undeterred by smoke or heat from the fire.  There were a few evening walks that we didn’t time very well where we were again attacked.  We were able to see the moon, Jupiter, Saturn, and Venus aligned; quite impressive the first night even with Venus disappearing into the tree tops, but not as close together the next evening.

After hanging our Christmas wreath (much too small for this trailer), we made our list of 8 trailer parts needed for some minor fixes.  It was presented to a trailer service center, knowing with parts shortages and Christmas coming it would be hard to get them all.  After sending lots of photos and clarifying sizes, etc. we only got two parts at the end of the month.  We also posted our revolving list of sell items on CraigsList (we haven’t gotten into the “current” marketing era) and were pleasantly surprised to sell one item after Christmas.

You know all those TV adds warning, suggesting, even threatening, for Medicare insurance?  Well Connie spent a day researching (just in case she could get “money back to your social security check”) and signed up on the deadline day.  Decisions, not fun.  She also did some more experimenting with our instant pot air fryer, with some successes and some failures.  The bagels weren’t so bad, tasting and texture were fine, but a lot of work kneading.

A dear friend of ours in Decatur, IL died this month after many days in the hospital.  We had promised him several times that we would be there for his funeral music and eulogy.  We checked into a rental car and driving, and were prepared to make the trip once the date was set but the plans changed.  We very quickly tried recording the three songs he requested, “On the Wings of a Dove,” “Whispering Hope,” and “What a Day That Will Be” which was one we had to learn (a great gospel song).  After about 20 hours we decided “Whispering Hope” had no hope, and finished off the other two songs, learning a lot about recording the hard way, and sent them to the funeral home.  Connie also recorded a message and sent that as well.  During this intense recording time the park decided to blow leaves and our neighbor sat outside with her radio on; both loud enough in our recording room to postpone recording.  We also had a glitch in our system with no playback sound, sending us into a panic of course.  We inadvertently routed our speakers to play from the computer rather than the software audio box, oops!

The week before Christmas we always try to avoid shopping of any kind.  It was easier this year because John’s other ear decided to be a problem, mostly in the jaw this time, and he ate a lot of soft foods.  By Christmas Eve he felt better and we played the instrumental prelude for the service.  Christmas Day we planned coconut shrimp, spring rolls, asparagus, broccoli, baked potatoes, (more air fryer experiments), and ice cream.  His jaw was well enough for us to enjoy our Christmas Dinner of real food!

The week after Christmas we visited Bourlay Historic Nature Park and walked around seeing the old family home, lake front, and some fantastic trees.  The mature live oak trees, with moss, are always amazing to walk under.  Many of these trees in our RV park have “faces” that we enjoyed during our walks.  On our walks around our RV park we could watch boats from the 640’ pier along Haines Creek (more like a canal with a lock going between two larger lakes).  There was also “Fred” the park dinosaur that moved from spot to spot, greeting the regulars as they arrived for their winter retreat.  Each arrival would add tinsel, lights, and decorations and Fred was most elegantly dressed for Christmas. 

The final week of December we talked about where spring and summer would take us, and “signed up” for volunteer projects for March and April.  We also looked back over 2021, counting our blessings, friendships, and accomplishments.  We have been so blessed!  It is easy to get grumpy (lots of holiday traffic noise throughout the night, emergency vehicle sirens, and New Year’s Eve fireworks this last week) but one of our devotions put it all in perspective: “life on earth may be shaken, but eternity is built on a solid foundation.” 

Our final Sunday in the Leesburg area we attended church with some retired SOWER friends.  The First Baptist Church of Okahumpka had a missionary speaker from Suriname with about the same message as the quote above.  We had lunch together, picked up a few groceries, and traveled home to finish packing up for our travels Monday morning!  

. . . the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news . . . sent me to make the brokenhearted well, to proclaim freedom . . . to comfort all who are sad, provide for those who grieve . . . They (those in need) will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.  Isaiah 61:1-3 paraphrased, multiple versions

Thanks for traveling with us! 
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 – SaltyStrings@hotmail.com
Facebook – Salty Strings Music Ministry
Web site – SaltyStrings.com

ONLINE DONATIONS via PayPal through our web site

TRAVEL PLANS AND UPCOMING LOCATIONS

  • Jan 3-March 3 – Time off, River Palms, Thonotosassa, FL; friends, music engagements
  • March 3-4 – Travel to Conyers, GA (east Atlanta) for a volunteer project
  • March 5-31 – Volunteer SOWER Project
  • April 1-28 – Travel to French Camp, Mississippi for Volunteer SOWER Project

The Salt Shaker ~ November 2021

. . . Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever!  Amen.  Revelation 7:12 ESV

Praises – Thanksgiving, wonderful weather, music ministry, John’s ear slowly healing.

Prayers –Trailer parts ordered, arrival before end of month; God’s leading for March location; the gift of Christmas – Christ with Us in an even greater way this coming year.

Hello to our family, followers, and friends:

Our November volunteer project, in Hudson, FL, was a great place to work and rest as well.  We were fortunate to have no rain during our work days which was great for Connie, riding her bicycle to devotions and the kitchen.  Being in Florida we had our share of the biting ants (first day and last, with a few in between) and about a 15-minute mosquito frenzy at sunset. 

Connie, as one of her duties in the kitchen, was able to provide our morning break snacks as well as a few special treats (cookie dough and Belgium waffles).  The rest of the morning was various prep work including peeling 50# of potatoes and learning how to use a large hand-crank salad spinner.    

On one of her bike rides to morning devotions she estimated 15 wild turkeys crossing the edge of the soccer field.  They were back the next morning, she slowed down and counted, they were all there.  The sandhill cranes here are typically in pairs and very used to people and traffic (much different in color than Wisconsin sandhill cranes).  As we walked around we enjoyed seeing a bald eagle on top of a high wire tower, a field of cattle, many ibis, and a great-blue heron at the beach.

We were greatly blessed with having paved streets to ride our bicycles, a heated swimming pool and hot tub (great for sore muscles at the end of the day), and beautiful grounds to take walks.  John’s ear trouble continued, gradually getting better, and he was able to swim by the middle of the month.   The live oak trees were very impressive with lots of Spanish moss hanging down and a few of the streets making an eyelet as they split around a tree.  Connie also enjoyed researching and trying recipes with her early Christmas presents – accessories and an air fryer cover for the Instant Pot.   Some worked, some were definitely experiments!

Our first Sunday we attended Idlewilde, a mega-church nearby with a full orchestra (including harp), choir, and worship band.  They were celebrating the 10-year anniversary of their Hispanic service with the worship band doing praise songs in both Spanish and English.  It was unique and gave us a touch of what it must be like for those who don’t speak English.  The following Sundays we went to Blessed Hope Baptist Church, a much smaller congregation.  Our first Sunday there was a potluck dinner and packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes.   We were later invited to share a mini-concert for their evening service which was a blessing to us as we shared some good old hymns and some of our new songs.

John worked with others on the cabins, used for students and during the summer by campers.  They were able to complete 6 during our three weeks, each one needing varying degrees of power washing, scraping, patching, priming, and paint.

Other than our volunteer work (116 hours), Connie got out her sewing machine and hemmed 2 pair of jeans for John, made a new zipper pillowcase for his feather pillow, and modified a sheet to make 2 chair “covers” to keep the upholstery clean.  There were a few “slightly off” days as we adjusted to the Daylight Savings time change; it is surprising how we need to adapt to a one-hour difference!  John spent some time recording and comping (selecting the good parts) and Connie continued watching the software tutorials, picking up several good tips and tricks to use. 

We finally had a good weather day off to head to the beach!  We visited Hudson Beach, on the Gulf, very small and not much sand (a bit of a disappointment).  Our photo captured a ray of sunshine that landed on an American flag on the shore.   We did see a pelican away from shore on a post, cormorants drying their wings, clams glistening from the sun as they opened and scooted about in perhaps 3’ deep waters, and fingerling needlefish.  They stayed in small schools in very shallow water, looked to be a bit longer than a pencil, and with some research, found them to be non-native, growing to 20#, and likely to jump over a boat rather than swim around it.  Always something to be learned from God’s creation around us.

Thanksgiving this year was not on the road or at a restaurant or alone!  We joined numerous others at “The Grove” for a potluck dinner for those early winter arrivals away from family.  After Thanksgiving dinner, we kept busy packing up and were on the road Friday morning heading a few hours north; a short trip this time to a private RV park for some recording and resting our tired muscles.  We enjoyed a leisurely lunch at a gas station Café on the way and arrived around 1 pm.  Although things looked easy on the park map (that didn’t show the beautiful landscaping), it was very challenging to park.  Thanks to the expert guidance from the host, we made it into a beautiful shady lot with mature trees and hanging moss, of course!

“. . . We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight . . . we make it our aim to please him.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”  2 Corinthians 5:6-10 ESV

May each of you and your families have a blessed and wonderful Christmas!
John and Connie Nicholas, Salty Strings Music Ministry

Contact Information:     
Mail:  John & Connie Nicholas ~ Salty Strings Music Ministry,
16 N. Potsdam Ave. #3962, Sioux Falls, SD  57104
Phone – John 909-336-8910 or Connie 909-336-8912
Email – SaltyStrings@hotmail.com
Facebook – Salty Strings Music Ministry
Web site – SaltyStrings.com

ONLINE DONATIONS via PayPal through our web site

TRAVEL PLANS AND UPCOMING LOCATIONS
* Nov 27-Jan 2 – Time off, Haines Creek RV Village, Leesburg, FL; music engagements
* Jan 2-February – Time off, River Palms, Thonotosassa, FL; friends, music engagements
* March, April, May – Project locations to be determined
* June, July – travels – north to Wisconsin

The Salt Shaker ~ October 2021

Praises – Tire and battery repairs; safe travel through some crazy swerving traffic; 3 music engagements in December, 1 concert in January  

Prayers – Trailer repairs, finding parts, cosmetic and roof vent/fan; wisdom/unity final recording projects to be pleasing to God; John ear pain off and on since October 22; being encouragers as we meet new people in our travels; a Blessed THANKSGIVING season for all

 . . there was a man called Zacchaeus; a chief tax collector to whom others reported . . rich . . a notorious sinner . . short in stature . . who climbed up in a tree to see Jesus passing by.   He, at Jesus request, welcomed Jesus with joy into his home . . later saying, “See, Lord, I am now giving back to the poor and anyone I have cheated.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this household . . he is a spiritual son . .” Luke 19:2-9 paraphrased Amplified Bible

Hello to our friends, followers, and family:

There is always something to deal with every time you travel and move to a different site.  It could be opening a cabinet door or cargo shifting on the floor, but this time it was our thermostat!  Of course, tired from the travel and a bit stressed from arriving late, Connie went to set the furnace for the cooler overnight temperatures.  What she discovered was 28 degrees and numbers not changing into anything recognizable – our control somehow reset itself to Celsius readings!  That got researched and reset the next morning!  TV programming is always interesting as well.  After a few months of little to no TV stations we were pleasantly surprised to find lots of TV stations including MeTV, just in time for John’s favorite Saturday night programs (Three Stooges and Svengoolie).

From last month, the rest of the flat trailer tire story – we called it in at 3 pm, service finally dispatched at 4:45 pm with an estimate of 90-120 minutes to arrival.  With patience and prayer, the tow truck driver arrived early and we were back on the road at 6pm!  (We had some wonderful homemade chocolate chip cookies from our daughter-in-law and offered him one, which he appreciated.)

This month we were back on a SOWER volunteer project, a wonderful camp in southern North Carolina, a few miles off the interstate and about 3 miles from the South Carolina border.  It was great to be serving and working alongside others as well.  Connie kept busy getting dirty while going through their shop/maintenance building taking inventory of the larger items and equipment.  She handled every item, finding make and model numbers to be recorded by another lady, and entered into a spreadsheet by our third lady.  After that was finished there were several hours of online research into “replacement” values, which were hard to find for many items.  Once the totals were calculated she went to sorting and organizing areas – sockets, wrenches, handles, screws, nails, bolts, etc.  She was also recruited to work on the office door locks, fixing the issues by resetting the strike plates.

John and the guys had lots of hard work as well:  disassembling the “Boat House” steps, forming, mixing, scooping, and finishing concrete base pads, then rebuilding the risers and stairs; packing up a donated pop-up camper so it could be sold; removing and replacing buckling tile in the dining hall; cleaning out and moving storage items from an old semi box; starting a ditch for a water line (after 18” of sandy soil there was hard clay); removing “nailed through the roof” damaged fascia boards and replacing them on some cabins; and rebuilding the PVC pipe “rack” which broke with a loud crash the next-to-the-last day of our project.  We had 125 volunteer hours this month along with the blessing of a wonderful place to stay and devoted staff to work with.  The staff here are true missionaries (raising their own support, not paid by the camp) with heart-felt dedication to their ministry.

Our very first Sunday morning we found a church to attend (Baltimore Baptist Church) and were ready to head out for Sunday School.  The truck wouldn’t start – the battery appeared dead.  Our neighbors pulled their truck over, let it charge, and it still wouldn’t start so we rode with them into church for the service.  The following Friday we were off for our first shopping trip, the truck started a bit hard and kept getting worse with each stop we made.  We looked up a Chevy dealer, made it there, and needed two new batteries (one had a dead cell, the other had diminished cranking power).

On the way to church we found a few unpicked cotton fields waiting for the leaves to dry up and drop off before it is picked.  There were also tobacco fields that had been stripped with the tops continuing to grow and blossom.  The picture is a bit fuzzy, there was nowhere to pull off the county road to get a good picture of the green leaves with light purple flowers in bloom.

On our very last Friday we had an appointment to get our trailer tires replaced.  After researching tire dealers, availability, and prices it was a blessing from God to find the tires in stock, someone who knew about trailer tire exchanges, and reasonably priced delivery/on-site service.  Our “spare” was still on the trailer but in good enough condition to keep as a spare.  Four trailer tires were replaced by a very young but knowledgeable worker from the same tire chain that serviced our flat.  We had to have the trailer ready by 7:30 am for the appointment (slides ready to bring in and not using the trailer until they were finished) and were able to wait outside and watch the sun rise.  As the tires were changed, this young man and John were able to get the huge piece of tire out from the axel and suspension as well.  We had opportunity that same evening to watch the sun set.  We are so blessed!

Being a bit farther south we were in pre-fall season, but a bit hotter and more humid than expected.  The first week was very hot and humid, followed by some breezy days eventually turning to heat in the morning, air conditioning by noon, and windows open at night.  By the end of the month there were a few trees changing colors, always nice to see, reminders of fall in Wisconsin/Illinois.  Connie managed to get soaked one afternoon when a rain storm came through and our awning screen was staked out.  Once wet it was too heavy for the motor to roll in so she dashed out, unhooked the ropes, unzipped the screen from the awning, and came in dripping.  (Secretly she has always wanted to take a walk in the rain, that is now off her wish list!)

We didn’t have an opportunity to share our music with the camp or church this month but did spend many hours working on our 2nd recording project.  We had mixed results, but learned a lot in the process.  By the end of the month, our ordered cables to connect the keyboard for MIDI recording arrived.  It worked for the notes, but no sound, a big disappointment.  Oops!  After some more research we need different cables.  The hardest part right now is figuring out what we want to hear (keep in mind there are two of us) for instruments, volume, blends, etc.  And, the learning curve continues for the software and editing process.

Wednesday, October 27 we were on the road traveling south again, starting the day at 8:30 am and ending in a Walmart parking lot in Starke, Florida.  It was a bit warmer than we anticipated, but once the “Party Bus” (a bus/van type vehicle with extremely loud obnoxious music blaring) left the parking lot we slept pretty well.  Thursday early morning the rain started.  We were able to leave at 8:00 am and didn’t have much rain or road spray as we continued south to Hudson, Florida for our November volunteer project.  We arrived right before lunch, got mostly set up before the rain started again, and headed out for a Cracker Barrel lunch (thanks to a gift certificate from North Carolina).  We met our project host, had a tour, and retired for the night after a wonderful shower.  It is amazing how good that feels after a few days on the road.  Rested and refreshed, we are ready for what our November jobs will be! 

“Let everyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches:  Everyone who is victorious shall eat of the hidden manna, the secret nourishment from heaven; and I will give to each a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one else knows except the one receiving it.”  Revelation 2:17 The Living 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 – SaltyStrings@hotmail.com
Facebook – Salty Strings Music Ministry                        Web site – SaltyStrings.com

ONLINE DONATIONS via PayPal through our web site

TRAVEL PLANS AND UPCOMING LOCATIONS

  • Oct 28-Nov 26 – Volunteer work, SOWER Project – Hudson, Florida
  • Nov 26-Jan 2 – Time off, Haines Creek RV Village, Leesburg, FL; music engagements
  • Jan 2-February – Time off, River Palms, Thonotosassa, FL; friends, music engagements

The Salt Shaker ~ September 2021

Praises – Finished “Conductivity” recording; wonderful time of recreation and being with family; protection while traveling

Prayers – New trailer tires and on-site installation before end of month; safe travels to Florida; recording success; wisdom for copyrighting songs and making them public

“Let your kingdom come, let your pleasure be done”
Unknown translation, from The Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 6:9

Hello to our followers, family, and friends:

The first week of September we were still in Wisconsin enjoying some great sunsets, cooler days and evenings, and even needing our heater a few nights.  We made a trip to Madison, WI looking around for sound equipment, and had some time to walk around Olbrich Gardens before meeting our Beloit friend for dinner.  The gardens were more elaborate with GLEAM exhibits (art installations with lighting for after dark visits).  It is still hard to find indoor seating restaurants and we wanted one close to the interstate for our trip home.  In our searching we happened upon a diner with great food!

We were up early the first Sunday morning, traveling north to Osseo, WI for a wonderful opportunity to reunite with a great church family.  After our music ministry message (Who do we Worship?) we shared a bratwurst potluck lunch before heading back home.  Labor Day afternoon was another (bratwurst-remember we are in Wisconsin!) potluck lunch and afternoon of music with our hosts and their family and friends for their annual Barn Praise.  John helped refurbish the picnic table and added lighting in the “barn” just for this occasion.  It still amazes us how God uses music and our efforts to be a blessing to others.

The following day found us packing up for our longest trip with our new truck/trailer – 4 days on the road!  You have to pack a bit more securely and plan things like food and weight distribution a bit better.  We left (after struggling a bit to get hooked up) on Wednesday, September 8 around 9am and arrived safely in Marshall, Virginia Saturday, September 11 just before noon.

Some highlights from our travel to Virginia:  the mission of day 1 was to get an air hole in John’s gas station coffee cup!  We noticed the soybean fields were starting to yellow among the brown corn fields and thought about what that would look like from an airplane.  Day 2 found us delayed quite a bit with traffic west of Indianapolis and a 45 minute-10-mile trip out of Columbus.  We found Walmart’s in east Ohio don’t allow overnight stays, but had a DEF fluid warning that put us in a strip mall parking lot overnight right next to the Walmart lot (thankfully we had no problems staying overnight).  The next morning, we filled up with DEF, got ready to leave, and the truck wouldn’t start!  There happened to be a tow truck in the Walmart lot that got us going quickly.  Night 3 we had a reservation at Happy Hills Campground very close to the Maryland/West Virginia state line.  We went up, down, and around on a narrow road with low branches at 35 mph to get there, and again the next morning to get back to the interstate meeting fire trucks on the way!  There were more narrow, low branch back roads (we found a better route later on) before arriving at Stillwaters Studios, Marshall, VA.  After a few spinning tire ruts in the still damp grass, we were parked, mostly set up, made a trip into town for ice cream, and took good, long, hot showers!

We were within 30 minutes of Manassas and made several trips there to spend time with our youngest son’s family, enjoying our youngest granddaughter and her escapades.  Before we left, she had a few more teeth and was walking on her own, what great milestones to be a part of.  They also made a few trips to the country to visit us.  We were able to be part of the audience for a live recording session (outdoors) of Orpheus Jazz, doing a tribute project to a local leader and jazz musician.

There was some good recreation time this month as well.  One of our day trips we went to the National Museum of the United States Army (Fort Belvoir).  It was a beautiful building and had displays for 245 years of Army history.  You could spend days there.  On our final visit we had breakfast at Ducks Donuts (watching donuts being made and enjoying maple bacon, oreo, and pumpkin streusel flavors), spaghetti lunch at their house, and Jitterbugs ice cream (more flavor choices) after a bit of walking around downtown Manassas.

Connie finished up the sewing projects for sound proofing our “studio” office room.  Then came the test – we set up one microphone and recorded our first go-by track with hammer dulcimer and guitar.  It worked, leading to many hours getting microphone positions for each instrument, laying down loop tracks, and comping the sections to make the finish tracks for each instrument.  There is still a bit of guitar work to do and adding in a few more instruments (including learning midi recording with the keyboard) before that song will be finished.  John also did some recording with two other songs that will be next in line.

We were able to take fairly frequent walks down the lane and back road where we were parked.  Most of our days were too hot and humid for Connie with lots of early morning dew, but it did cool off a bit in the evening.  One cooler day there was a very large dark brown/red fox that jumped across the lane right in front of us.  The lane also had some great flower plantings at the end of the driveways as well as wild flowers along the road edges in some areas. 

During our last week there were several rainy days after which our water quality turned to Sulphur taste and smell.  God provided us with a water purifier for our drinking water thanks to our great hosts whom we got to know a bit better on our last evening over dinner.  Pack-up day came along with a very happy bird calling “Vir-gin-i-a” in two to four repeats at a time.  This went on for 15-20 minutes with pauses between – very fitting for our final day in Virginia!

Friday, October 1 found us on the road again with a supposed 6-hour trip south to Fairmont, NC.  Traffic wasn’t bad getting to the interstate, or as we travelled.  About an hour before getting to our destination, Connie was driving and heard a loud “pop” followed by seeing debris coming from behind our trailer.  God again provided protection and provision – there was a semi-truck behind us and another in the right lane.  Both slowed down, allowing us a clear path to slow down and get to the side of the road where exit 55 was right in front of us!  We pulled over, crawled to a very wide ramp shoulder area, assessed the damages (cosmetic and a piece of rubber in the suspension), and made our roadside assistance call in the shade.  While waiting to contact a tow truck and their arrival we did a Bible flip-open-and-read finding appropriate comfort:

“. . . For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.  You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.”  Deuteronomy 13:3-4 ESV

In closing, this is from a message sent to our Wisconsin hosts (who were full time RV’ers as well) after our arrival in Virginia: “. . . no TV, better phone service, nice view, no bird feeders or cat, one dog, a row boat, and a glorious mellow wind chime.  That’s travel life for you, you never know what you’re leaving behind or what is waiting for you at the next stop!”

Thanks for traveling with us and being part of our family too!
John and Connie Nicholas, Salty Strings Music Ministry

Contact Information:      Mail:  John & Connie Nicholas ~ Salty Strings Music Ministry,
16 N. Potsdam Ave. #3962, Sioux Falls, SD  57104

Phone – John 909-336-8910 or Connie 909-336-8912     
Email – SaltyStrings@hotmail.com
Facebook – Salty Strings Music Ministry                       
Web site – SaltyStrings.com
ONLINE DONATIONS via PayPal through our web site

TRAVEL PLANS AND UPCOMING LOCATIONS

  • October 1-27 –Volunteer work, SOWER Project – Fairmont, North Carolina
  • Oct 27-28 – Travel to Hudson, Florida
  • Oct 28-Nov 27 – Volunteer work, SOWER Project – Hudson, Florida
  • Nov 27-Jan 2 – Time off, Haines Creek RV Village, Leesburg, FL; music engagements
  • Jan 2-February 2022 – Time off, River Palms, Thonotosassa, FL; friends, music engagements

The Salt Shaker ~ August, 2021

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise Him.  Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to Him on the ten-stringed lyre.  Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.  For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does.  Psalm 33:1-4 (NIV)

Praises – Fantastic generosity – from our hosts, the concert, and the churches; song recording almost done (our first in 22 years); safe travel to Wisconsin in the rain. 

Prayers – Enjoy family time while in Virginia, continued learning and recording in the trailer, travel to North Carolina the end of September.

Hello to our followers, friends, and family:

Our apologies for our “Salt Shaker” being very late again!  Our travels have hindered our abilities to put things together on time.  On August 2 we drove to Little Galilee Christian Camp outside of Clinton, Il where we had a short stay but were very busy.  We enjoyed several walks around the camp, noticing the changes since our last visit – the new dining hall “Self-Control” is up and running with a beautiful view from the deck, and the old dining hall is now the “Hangar” – set up to accommodate smaller groups with bunks and lots of indoor space for retreats.

From our “home” base for the week:  John ordered and picked up some new glasses; we got new phones set up with a different provider; John was able to find several pair of jeans (Tractor Supply and Goodwill); we enjoyed a take-out Chinese meal from our favorite buffet; we hosted our first overnight guest (our friend from Beloit) including homemade noodles, ice cream, and a movie; and John was able to attend the area men’s fellowship again, what great timing!

Our truck signage turned out beautiful with metallic silver letters on our black truck.  We were able to find our old graphics from 6 years ago, had them modified for the truck, and our Beloit friend provided the needed transportation.  While having breakfast and waiting to pick up the truck Connie found this unique sign in the restroom – where did common-sense go?  On another trip to Decatur we had a meal with another good friend and shared more piano music with the residents before leaving Illinois. 

We spent our last Sunday in Illinois at our home church in Lane, showing a few slides and sharing our travels and songs.  After a quick lunch at McDonald’s, we started packing up, putting the slides in and hooking up to the truck before the overnight rain started.

Monday, August 9, found us finishing up a few things in a light drizzle before getting on the road for the 6-hour journey to our beautiful accommodations between Elroy and Mauston, Wisconsin.  There were no people at the toll plaza so Connie tracked down the information, set up our account, added the trailer plate (after realizing our truck plate would not register on camera), and the toll fee was zapped to our credit card; amazing what technology can do!  We had some rain on our journey, but it quit as we arrived and got settled in.  The next two days were thunderstorms and a tornado warning, but we were parked in a fairly sheltered area and had no problems. 

A few days into our stay we headed to the nearest Aldi’s (Lake Delton/Wisconsin Dells) for shopping and pizza we’ve been craving for a few months.  Moose Jaw Pizza was recommended but with over an hour wait we went elsewhere and enjoyed slightly different style pizza than what we are used to but still very good.  We stopped at Walmart, JoAnn Fabric, and Lowe’s as well, getting supplies to sound-proof our music/office room.  The hardest part was finding cup hooks; several other buys and returns later we found the right ones for our needs.

Throughout the month our music ministry was very active – we were in 3 different churches on Sunday mornings for special music and messages, as well as a 2-hour concert at an event center in downtown Mauston.  What wonderful, generous people we met along the way.  We had to get up quite early some Sunday mornings but even that was a blessing driving through the hilly wooded Wisconsin countryside watching the morning mist rise from the valleys.  There were many songs we had to “retype” into larger size for our aging eyes and lots of practice time for songs we haven’t played for years!  We put together a slide-show presentation with photos of all the various places we have been since starting in 2015.  Lots of memories and testimony of God at work all over this country.

We “sold” one of the stained glass crosses at a church presentation and found that one of the ladies made stained glass and was now retired with lots of glass on hand.  We met at her home in Arena, WI and were so blessed from her donation of beautiful glass for more projects.  Other home projects that we finished were the tile around the stove (not as easy as it looked), the fuel filter replaced in the truck, and getting one set of felt curtains finished for our recording room.  The sewing machine is working great with three more ceiling panels almost complete.

Our hosts had lots of bird feeders with the humming bird feeder and grape jelly holder right outside our living room window.  Did you know that humming birds will also eat grape jelly?  John wanted to make friends with the hummingbirds, trying to get one to land on his hand for a drink from a red lid, but these guys were a bit skeptical of the whole situation.  Among the many birds that frequented the buffet of feeders were Orioles which we had not seen before.

Of course, when life is already busy enough, there are those problems that disrupt our schedules.  We had our share including our CD burner not working and our new phones not having reception or data and exceeding our roaming allowance of which we were unaware.  Whenever trials come along, we know there are blessings as well.  Our hosts let us use their phone internet hotspot, the CD burner did actually work when we got new CD’s, and we made a few visits to an excellent public library for internet service, which also means a meal out.

John took two bicycle rides, up and down the hills, and we both tried to take a walk at least once a day.  The paved road was great to walk on and look through the trees on either side, occasionally we would spot deer.  Some of the days were quite muggy but there were others with a wonderful cooler breeze and open windows at night.  One morning walk after an overnight rain, we were strolling along the wet pavement and hearing rain falling in the woods on either side of us, what an amazing experience!  We had great views of the valley and sun sets, and John enjoyed an evening of fellowship around the fire pit with our hosts and some other traveling guests.

We spent most of a day with our daughter, meeting at a campground outside of Fort McCoy, that had several hiking trails.  After hiking a bit, Connie did some kayaking on a very still small lake.  It was fun, but owning a kayak is not on our list of things to do someday. 

Our primary purpose for the month was to get a song recorded, learn about the software we have, and get ideas so we can record in the trailer.  All of the above were accomplished, in some degree of proficiency, during our stay.  There were bass and rhythm tracks (to help keep us on track!), “go-by” tracks, sample tracks for microphone placement, looping, fading, sampling, bouncing, mastering, mixing, and many more terms and tasks to get a song recorded.  We found a great Christian café/coffee house called “Beyond the Daily Grind” one day where we had breakfast out and returned another day to treat our hosts to lunch.  A small way to help say “thank you” for all the extra time teaching us as well as recording our song.

Put yourself now in a right relation with Him and be at peace: so will you do well in your undertakings.  Job 22:21 (BEB)

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 – SaltyStrings@hotmail.com
Facebook – Salty Strings Music Ministry                 Web site – SaltyStrings.com

ONLINE DONATIONS via PayPal through our web site

TRAVEL PLANS AND UPCOMING LOCATIONS

  • September 10-October 1 – Marshall, VA; friends and family, recording
  • October 1-27 – Travel/Volunteer SOWER Project – Fairmont, North Carolina
  • Oct 27-Nov 27 – Travel/Volunteer SOWER Project – Hudson, Florida
  • Nov 27-Jan 2 – Time off, Leesburg, Florida, music engagements
  • Jan 2-February – Thonotosassa, Florida – Time off with friends from Indiana, music engagements

The Salt Shaker ~ July 2021

Praises – Tonneau motor cover fixed with 2 screws; multiple family visits and no further hospitalizations; lots of music engagements; stained glass equipment/supplies; sewing machine

Prayers – Learning and doing recording in the trailer; church services this month; discernment for playing piano at facilities as we travel; weather and good route to Virginia after Labor Day

All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God.  Deuteronomy 28:2 (NIV)

Old Hymn “Count Your Blessings”
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God has done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one
Count your many blessings, see what God has done. 

Hello to our friends, followers, and family:

What a blessing we have with our “new to us” truck and trailer.  Aside from some troubles getting hooked up, our travel was smooth and relaxed for our 2.5-hour trip.  We proceeded to get backed into our trailer park mobile home site and unhook to get to the office for registration before they closed for the July 4th holiday weekend.  On our return, guess what?  We were about 2 feet short on our electric (with the extension) so we had to hookup again (fairly smooth this time) and back up, re-level, then connect the water and electric.  That was it for our travel day, time to rest and relax after that ordeal, and remember in the future to check out all our connections before moving the truck.

The first few days in Macomb we were able to be with our youngest son’s family, including meals in our trailer, at their air bed ‘n breakfast, and a whole family breakfast gathering before they headed home.  Another great blessing was having space to gather in our trailer, which we used several times this month.  We had two homemade turkey noodle dinners with John’s sister and one spaghetti dinner with some new friends we met at the Goodwill store.  Connie was able to find a sewing machine priced a little more than she wanted to pay since it was missing bobbins.  The clerk was very helpful and dropped a hint that it would be half-price 2 days later, so she left it and they left it behind the counter.  Bobbins were available, we met a wonderful couple when stopping to purchase it, and we became friends after our brief conversation in Goodwill.  We visited their home and they visited ours, encouraging each other in our Christian faith.

After stopping at the coffee house on the downtown square, John asked about playing some music there and the owner was open to the idea.  Our last two weeks we did different 2-hour afternoon sets of folk music (very surprised we had that many songs).  Of course we needed lots of practice – these were songs we hadn’t played for many years and lots of them needed to be retyped in larger print for our aging eyes!  It was great fun, very little pressure, and good to be drowned out by the expresso machine from time to time.  A blessing for us as people listened (and returned the second week) and commented on songs they hadn’t heard for a long time. 

Our church services for the month were with family, split between the Catholic and Christian Church in Bushnell about 15 minutes away, usually followed by a meal together.  John was able to go to a men’s fellowship meeting and a Saturday morning fellowship with the guys.  Two Sunday mornings we were able to share some special music with a church and Connie played piano for one service as well.  After striking-out twice we finally succeeded and played a few songs for John’s aunt/cousin on her porch on our last Sunday afternoon.  What a blessing to bless others, John’s sister and brother were there as well.

Connie was able to finish up her big stained glass project, started in Arizona, along with two smaller crosses with doves (one for a birthday gift).  The first day was spent organizing the new supplies and making space to work.  After a few stops for the finishing touches (jewelry for chain, suction cup hangers, and glass polish), the large project was finished the final Sunday morning.  She enjoyed herself and now has all she needs to make some more small items. 

As you can tell already, it was a very busy month.  In looking back we can see why we feel a bit burned out and ready for a rest.  Connie had 11 full days at home; John had 9.  The rest of the month we had something going on, all day or part of the day.  We made two full-day trips, driving our old car (what a treat), taking his sister to the heart doctor and then to get her defibrillator replaced.  We had another full day trip to visit our good friend on his birthday, eating lunch with him then playing some piano music for the remainder of the lunch time, and finishing the day with an eye appointment, visit to Hobby Lobby for stained glass supplies, and gathering information for new mobile phone service.

John was able to do some volunteer work for his aunt/cousin modifying her porch gate, stabilizing the railing, and securing a spoiler on her car.  Although it was one of the very hot days it was great to visit and solve several problems; one of those projects that every time one thing was fixed another problem appeared.  He kept busy making phone calls, organizing our trips and reservations, and lots of music practice. 

We tried being more consistent and intentional with our exercise to lose some weight.  There were many walks and bicycle rides. Most of the time we would ride our bicycles to Aldi’s and Walmart for supplies and groceries. One Aldi’s bicycle stop we had forgotten to bring our quarter for the cart. We were given a cart and even received a free watermelon for our family meal that evening. We questioned the check-out clerk (the total was less than what the watermelon cost) and she said the receipt was correct! Blessings come in the form of kind and considerate people all around us.

There were some days that our walks were quite hot and sweaty; one morning it was 74 but feels like 86, that was a very hot walk.  Many days the bicycle rides through downtown and around town were very enjoyable with several beautifully landscaped homes that we enjoyed going by.  We worked our way up to longer rides, across town around the college campus (where John graduated) as well as a very hilly meandering ride to the park.  We did finally see the park entrance, but turned around and headed back, through the farmers market downtown where Connie sat and rested up while John walked around the vendors.  On his return Connie had spotted a vendor with funnel cakes, John’s favorite once-every-five-years treat that he hadn’t noticed.  Needless to say, he/we got our funnel cake fix that morning in the park!  John had a few rides alone after that so he could go farther and faster. 

We continued to receive blessings.  The last week we found a great Chinese lunch special take-out restaurant that we could walk to, enjoying their food only once before leaving Macomb.  We ordered our truck signs from a worker from the previous company that had all our graphic work from before.  And, as we worked on future music engagements, we found a RV parking place at half the price of where we had planned to stay in Virginia, and only a few minutes longer commute to see our kids.  God is so good, all the time, we just have to stop and pause a bit to see all that He does for us!  From the big majestic sun rise and sun set to the small details in guiding our paths just so we can be blessed and continue to be a blessing to those we encounter.

For from him and through him and to him are all things.  To him be glory forever.  Amen.
Romans 11:36 (ESV)

Until next month – thanks for traveling with us and being part of our family ~

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 – SaltyStrings@hotmail.com
Facebook – Salty Strings Music Ministry
Web site – SaltyStrings.com

ONLINE DONATIONS via PayPal through our web site

TRAVEL PLANS AND UPCOMING LOCATIONS

  • August 1-9 – Little Galilee, Lane Christian Church, Clinton, IL – truck graphics
  • August 9-September 7 – Elroy, West-central Wisconsin; recording and music engagements
  • September 7-10 – Travel to Marshall, VA
  • September 10-October 1 – Marshall, VA; friends and family, music engagements
  • October 1-27 – Travel/Volunteer SOWER Project – Fairmont, North Carolina
  • Oct 27-Nov 27 – Travel/Volunteer SOWER Project – Hudson, Florida
  • Nov 27-Jan 2 – Time off, Leesburg, Florida, music engagements
  • Jan 2-February – Thonotosassa, Florida – Time off with friends from Indiana, music engagements

The Salt Shaker ~ June 2021

Jesus continued, “ . . . a true servant prepares the food for his master and makes sure his master is served his meal before he sits down to eat his own.  Does the servant expect to be thanked for doing what is required of him?  So learn this lesson:  After doing all that is commanded of you, simply say, ‘We are mere servants, undeserving of special praise, for we are just doing what is expected of us and fulfilling our duties.’” Luke 17:8-10 The Passion Translation

Praises Range hood done; safety from more storms; brother and sister out of hospitals; family reunion time; kids returning to camps

Prayers – Solution to lock down the tonneau motor cover; continued prayers for friends and family health issues; God’s direction and blessing as we make calls for music engagements

Hello to our followers, friends, and family:

When we arrived at our June SOWER project the usually busy camp was deserted and more like a ghost town over the Memorial Day Weekend.  We started on Tuesday morning, John with the maintenance guys working on drilling bunk beds for ladders with lots of pushing required to drill through the metal and into the wood frames.  Connie started with folding sheets, lifting her arms high to keep the laundry off the floor.  That night we “presented our achy bodies to God as a living sacrifice” along with realizing we need to lose some weight and get in better shape!

Throughout the month we attended our Carlinville, IL “home” church, Memorial Christian, and enjoyed their wonderful fellowship with Sunday School, evening Bible Study, great worship and sermons.  We were able to provide the music for the service on June 20th and shared several “new” songs as well as some old favorites.  The people here are so loving, encouraging, and generous, including lots of plastic bags for Connie’s crochet mat project.  We also had a trip to Lincoln, IL for our 10th year of providing a music program for the Jolly Seniors.  As usual, the fellowship and food were wonderful!  It was the first time for music travel with the truck; lots of thinking and planning to find the right place for everything to travel. 

Connie kept busy once the dining room started serving meals to campers.  After folding sheets for two mornings, many hours were spent in “panning up” food and goodies, slicing ham, and logging lots of steps (2.5 miles) as the kitchen “runner” keeping French fries and pizza trays close to the serving line door.

It was great to have internet available in our trailer again!  Our son provided us with Google TV access while we were in Arizona over the winter and we were able to use it again, enjoying an occasional movie.  This camp provided us great roads to circle the lake by bicycle or walking, and we braved the heat and made a few trips.  It was hotter than average, heat index over 100 a few days, along with the accompanying humidity.  We had lots of humming birds and a beautiful field of black-eyed Susan across the “hard” road with a few deer as well.

Looking back, this month was filled with food!  We were able to eat at the dining room (lots of kid’s camp foods) and enjoyed many meals out with friends.  We had many conversations with retired and current “red shirt” volunteers at the camp, individual meals with friends from the church, and a “brunch” visit with some fellow SOWERs who live about an hour away.

John was very versatile this month, working alone and along side their maintenance staff.  Along with the bunk bed ladders, he learned how to clean the outdoor pool and did that several mornings, built the stairs for the “blob” platform and put slats in the railings on the beach, spent a few days going around the camp tightening screws in railings and board walks, pulling the old candy and pop and restocking the vending machines, removing tables from the café, cleaning the gutters on six condo buildings (as well as visiting with some of the residents), moving mattresses, repairing and cleaning vacuum cleaners, checking and cleaning the a/c drain holes around the camp, becoming an a/c repair assistant, and added a few extra hours repairing or replacing the bug zappers in the kitchen/dining room building.  It was a busy few weeks helping the maintenance guys get a few little things crossed off their lists.

The end of June was reserved for Connie’s mother’s memorial service in Wisconsin.  We made our travel plans, stayed at an Airbnb (bed and breakfast) with our youngest son, and brought Mom’s grave stone with us.  There happened to be a monument company right down the road and Connie was able to talk with them, get options, have decisions made with her sister, and order the stone at a very reasonable price.  We received tips on setting the stone, picked it up Monday morning, and set it in place (in the rain) the following day.  We prepared music for the funeral home service and Connie played the accordion at the graveside at a very old country cemetery, followed by a simple luncheon and lots more visiting!  It was great being with family, some aunts and uncles we hadn’t seen in many years. 

The Wisconsin visit also included a wonderful pizza and DQ family visit at the park, homecooked breakfasts with our son and his wife, and getting to spend time with our 1-year-old granddaughter.  There were also visits and meals with close friends from Wisconsin.  Add in a few appointments and errands to help Connie settle the two estates she has been juggling – one now done, one still pending – and the days were quite busy.

We made arrangements with our volunteer project host to leave our trailer in Illinois while we were in Wisconsin.  After the whirlwind of the family visits (we had all four of our children together for most of one day), our 4.5-hour drive back seemed very long.  We arrived “home” to sleep in our own bed (how wonderful that is) and woke the next morning to pack up the trailer and travel to Macomb, IL for lots more family time!  We are God’s children, and are more distanced than many because of our travels, but we can’t help but transfer the feelings of our personal family time together to how God must feel when we make time to be close and converse with Him.

This is what the Lord says . . . “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the Lord your God . . .”  Isaiah 43:1-3 NIV (New International Version)

Please keep us in your prayers . . . and THANKS for traveling with us!

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 – SaltyStrings@hotmail.com
Facebook – Salty Strings Music Ministry                        Web site – SaltyStrings.com

ONLINE DONATIONS via PayPal through our web site

TRAVEL PLANS AND UPCOMING LOCATIONS

  • July 2-August 1 –Macomb, IL visiting friends and families, recording set up; some 2.5-hour day trips to Decatur for visits and music engagements
  • August 1-9 – Little Galilee, Lane Christian Church, Clinton, IL – truck graphics
  • August 9-September 7 – Elroy, Central Wisconsin; recording and music engagements
  • September 7-10 – Travel to Haymarket, VA
  • September 10-October 1 – Haymarket, VA; friends and family, music engagements
  • October 1-27 – Travel/Volunteer SOWER Project – Fairmont, North Carolina
  • Oct 27-Nov 27 – Travel/Volunteer SOWER Project – Hudson, Florida
  • Then ~ December Leesburg, FL; and January-February 2022 Thonotosassa, FL

The Salt Shaker ~ May 2021

Praises – Range hood ordered for June delivery; safety from more storms; better gas mileage and stability when traveling; back in Illinois again

Prayers – Solution to lock down the tonneau motor cover; install range hood; John’s brother’s health and healing from pneumonia; RV park near Manassas, VA for September

Jesus said to them, “Come, follow me, and I will make you a different kind of fishermen.  You will bring in people, not fish.”  So they immediately left their nets and followed Jesus.  Mark 1:17-18 (Also Matthew 4:19-20) Easy-to-Read Version

Hello to our family, followers, and friends:

We are reminded this month that “immediately” is really not a part of our lifestyle.  Not that we don’t hurry, try to do too many things at once, or get rushed, but once we trust God for direction, we have a steady course. Our second month at Lake Lavon Camp south of Princeton, Texas brought completion to the projects we started last month, which is not always the case in volunteer ministry. We are thankful for this season of travel and volunteering; very refreshing, relaxing, and fulfilling.

Another SOWER couple joined us this month making the time seem to go quicker.  The guys put cedar trim on the ceiling beams and made cedar floor molding for Lakeview Hall.  The kitchen cabinets were rearranged, flooring redone, and counter top installed (with John crawling in the cabinets to fasten it).  They added some more electrical wiring for switches and kitchen lights, put up a few light fixtures, cleaned the foyer doors and their renovation project was complete and ready for guest use!  In addition, the guys spent some time putting up hardyboard siding on one side of the worship center and made the summer staff bunk beds more stable.

Connie continued working on the database and was able to complete her task as well.  A grand total of 423 entries including 418 member churches, all updated with current “online” information.  Our other SOWER gal was kept plenty busy in organizing closets, shelves, and gift shop items; as well as cleaning, dusting, and vacuuming – Connie’s least favorite things to do!

The May weather in Texas was hotter and more humid; lots of clouds, wind, one hail storm, and plenty of rain.  Connie spent a lot of time working on taxes for us and her mother’s estate, getting them done before the extended May 15th deadline.  Once that was over, we enjoyed some meals out with our fellow volunteers and were pleased to find indoor seating in a McDonald’s.  The restaurant of choice was Whataburger, the first time for us in several years. John also was able to get a “flamin’ shrimp/chicken combo” at Popeye’s, one of his favorite places to eat (even though it made his eyes water).  The microwave shelf was built, installed, and we purchased an inexpensive counter top microwave to use.  After many online searches we found the almost perfect range hood, which will arrive in June.

We continued attending Culleoka Baptist Church Sunday School, worship, and evening singing fellowship where we provided some special songs.  Connie played piano two weeks for the worship service which was a treat for her.  On Sunday evening, May 2, we presented a 1 ½ hour concert for the community followed by fellowship with homemade cookies and breads.  That was a great encouragement for us to continue in this ministry and an unexpected financial blessing for us.  God still works mightily through music and our willing hearts.

Our morning devotions with the staff continued to bring more thought-provoking insights. It is interesting how the Bible is able to address so many pertinent areas of our lives today and can be used for all stages and settings of life. So wonderful to hear the application to camp staff and the students they will be ministering to. There were also some discussions leading to further research; Connie is following up from a Sunday School class and from the sermons on being a royal priesthood, a “peculiar” people – which, of course, we are!

Alas, the time came when we started packing up – only the 2nd time we have with this trailer. The lists were made, adjusted, and fine-tuned for next time. We left after a stressful time getting hitched up, and drove through some heavy rain as we headed out of Texas. There was a devotion only a few days before we left saying we need to put our lives in “neutral” from time to time – we realized by late afternoon that time was now! We spent two nights “boondocking” with full hookups on the farm of some SOWER friends near Pretty Prairie, Kansas; fishing ponds, tree swings, and a tree slide with indoor ladder. The fellowship and food were great – spaghetti on arrival, Carriage Crossing in Yoder (Kansas) for breakfast (yes, an Amish restaurant), a late lunch buffet at Pizza Ranch, and a wonderful breakfast before we left for a slightly unlevel Walmart overnight near St. Louis, Missouri.

There were a few additional stops our last two days of travel as we taped and retaped the tonneau motor cover that kept coming unfastened, blowing up and bouncing as we drove along. We had a short final drive day, arriving at our new volunteer project around noon, followed by a great indoor seating Chinese buffet lunch in Carlinville, IL. After that, a short nap, and putting out a few things including the harp, tuned up for some practice over the Memorial Holiday weekend.

We have been so encouraged by the people we meet and work with.  Our final Sunday we were sent off with homemade peanut butter cookies, biscuits, and a prayer circle around us and our fellow SOWER couple for our travels and future work.  We also have this wonderful (huge) trailer and truck that gives us better gas mileage, pulls easy with more stability, and lots more comfort than before. We are so blessed; please pray we may continue to give what we have as an encouragement to all those we have contact with.

“Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to . . . where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts.  When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money.  Peter looked straight at him, as did John.  Then Peter said, “Look at us!”  So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.  Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give to you . . .”  Acts 3:2-6 NIV paraphrased

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 – SaltyStrings@hotmail.com
Facebook – Salty Strings Music Ministry                         Web site – SaltyStrings.com

ONLINE DONATIONS via PayPal through our web site

  • TRAVEL PLANS AND UPCOMING LOCATIONS
  • May 28-July 1 – Lake Williamson Conference Center, Carlinville, IL
  • June 28-July 1 – Travel with truck to Wisconsin for Memorial service and family time
  • July 2-July 16 or 23 – Tentative, Macomb, IL friends and families
  • July 16 or 23-31 – Tentative, Little Galilee Camp, Clinton, IL friends and truck graphics
  • August – Tentative – Central Wisconsin; recording and music engagements
  • September – Tentative – Virginia; friends and family
  • October 2-29 – Volunteer SOWER Project – Fairmont, North Carolina

The Salt Shaker ~ April, 2021

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
2 Peter 1:2 (NIV)

Praises – Achy joints and muscles but still going; no damages from winds, thunder storms, or hail; rain and lots of green around us.

Prayers – Changed lives for kids, youth, and adult groups that will be attending here; camp staff; music opportunities for May and summer months; bedroom slide operation; travel to north central Illinois; finding a range hood to fit our space; trailer tire valve stem replacement.

Hello to our friends, family, and followers:

After introducing ourselves to the camp director at our “new” SOWER project, we were shown to the trailer parking area to make ourselves at home.  With the help of another volunteer, we were able to get our 40’10” trailer parked, at an angle, taking up two spots.  We checked in advance to be sure we could fit and there are enough empty spaces while we’re here that it worked!  The very first weekend there were a few smaller groups using the camp; a real treat to see people gathered and enjoying the grounds.  There were fireworks one night, something the camp offers as an option for the groups.  John was also invited to attend the Men’s Retreat!

We start our work days with devotion time with the staff.  Typically, a chapter of the Bible is read aloud and discussed for about 30 minutes before going into tasks for the day/week and long-range plans for all the to-do’s before camp “opens” for the summer.  Quite a long list including counselors, life guard training, hiring a cook, repairs, fixes, and routine things like painting the pool.  Definitely plenty to pray for and about. 

Easter Sunday found us “up the road” about 10 minutes at Culleoka Baptist Church.  Someone explained a few weeks later that the name is Indian for sweet (Culle) water (oka).  We went the next week to Sunday School and the evening service which was a hymn sing encompassing all genres of music.  The next week we played two special songs with the guitar and hammer dulcimer and offered to do a community concert which was scheduled for May 2.  There were several days of practice, getting our fingers toughened up again, deciding on songs, tuning (everything is going sharp with the humidity), and finding pictures to use as background as well as talking about our SOWER ministry.  It was fun going back over the years and remembering so many wonderful places and ministries.  God always leads us to the right place to learn and worship, no exception here and they have free fresh lettuce, spinach, and radishes as well!

Connie was able to spend most of her time in the office (where it is climate controlled) working on updating the camp mail/contact database.  There are six church associations in the camp area, each containing 40-100+ churches to be researched for current contact information as well as staff changes.  By the end of the month, she had almost completed four of the smaller associations.  There were a few days she got to physically work helping with the flooring, installing 4’ LED ceiling lights with John, cleaning up after the guys, and whitewashing a brick fireplace.

John worked indoors with the Lakeside Hall renovations.  That included sink and hot water heater plumbing, flooring and the associated fitting under moldings, cleaning and putting the ceiling fan blades back on, cutting holes and running some wiring in the attic, installing 4’ ceiling and “can” lights, and caulking and painting trim.  There were many stiff days and achy nights with sore muscles, knees, and backs but seeing this building getting closer to a beautiful lake view meeting area is worth it all.  The last day of the flooring tallied 2 cuts, 2 pounded fingers, 1 hit wrist, sore knees for both of us, and thigh muscles that caused Connie to move gently.

The weather in Texas, especially on the lake front, is very unpredictable.  A lot of windy days, coming from different directions, with gusts in the 20-30 mph range quite frequently.  We found the awnings over the slides, that help so much with the heat, are very noisy when they flap about from the winds.  There have been a few, maybe two, days the lake was calm and smooth as we walked to the office for devotions; by noon the winds were back.  Our first severe thunderstorm had Connie on the couch from 10:30 pm to 1:30 am, mostly because of the awning noise.  Our second severe thunderstorm came through in the afternoon, causing the trailer to shake a bit, and bringing gravel-size hail, rain, and some pea-size hail later.  There have been a few storms since, and Connie in particular, is getting a bit calmer – the gusty winds have always been troubling for her.  There has been a lot of rain as well, a whole week where they couldn’t mow, several hot and humid days (Connie’s hair is frizzing again), along with some cool nights in the low 40’s.  Guess spring is about the same everywhere!

We are knowing our way around by now.  Everywhere you travel ends up on a 2 or 3 lane “county road” through endless cities that merge into one another.  We do have Aldi’s again for groceries which is a blessing.  We are finding that our shopping days, some with five or six stops, leave us totally exhausted.  Several hours were spent making trips and online searches for over-the-range microwaves, finally deciding to get a counter unit and range hood, and build a shelf.  One good thing about our shopping days is getting to eat out – and we celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary a few days late with an Olive Garden lunch.  It’s been many years since we’ve eaten there.  On the way home we realized they have “longhorn” trucks – only in Texas!? 

We did manage to get some fuses for the microwave, lasting from two uses to almost 24 hours, before we declared it officially unrepairable.  Right before that decision we purchased some Grand’s biscuits to cook in the convection microwave.  Connie decided we would have to start the oven, which we finally managed to get to stay lit.  A few days later we did some pizza, officially breaking her 5-year 7-month ban on using the oven.

Some of this month included finding niches and putting up some decorative things.  Our stick-up hooks are not holding things on the walls – there have been a few bumps in the night to find things on the floor (nothing broken, yet) even using nails/screws.  Some hummingbirds found our feeder about a week after we put it out, hanging on tightly as it blew about in the wind.  We continue to find changes on our evening walks, our first evening being met by beautiful yellow flowers (they bloom only in the evening) in what we thought was grass/weeds; meeting “Max” the very friendly cat that stalks everything; seeing a blue bird, hawks, egrets, and two geese; lots of pink and very small violet-like purple flowers, buttercups, iris, and blue bells; green fields of perhaps wheat or rye; and lots of goats.  Connie does occasionally ride her bike to the office for the morning or for internet.  We had one bike ride down the road and around a small cluster of houses with the wind at our backs to start which made the ride home very slow. 

Where does the time go?  Another month is beginning bringing another SOWER couple for us to volunteer with . . . may God get all the glory!

“make every effort to add to your faith goodness . . . knowledge . . . self-control . . . perseverance . . . godliness . . . mutual affection . . . and love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:5-8 paraphrased (NIV)

Thanks for traveling with us and being part of our family too!

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 – SaltyStrings@hotmail.com
Facebook – Salty Strings Music Ministry
Web site:  SaltyStrings.com

ONLINE DONATIONS via PayPal through our web site

TRAVEL PLANS AND UPCOMING LOCATIONS

  • May 1-24 – Lake Lavon Christian Camp & Conference Center, Princeton, TX
  • May 25-27 – Travel to Carlinville, IL
  • May 28-June 25 – Lake Williamson Conference Center, Carlinville, IL
  • June 25-July 14 – Tentative, Macomb, IL friends and families
  • July 14-21 – Tentative, Lane/Decatur, IL friends and families, truck graphics
  • July 21–August – Tentative – Northwest Wisconsin; possible music opportunities
  • August-September – Tentative – Little Galilee, Clinton, IL; Family Camp
  • September-October – Tentative – Manassas, VA area; friends and family

The Salt Shaker ~ March 2021

Praises – Safe travels and arrival; new friends in Arizona; the comforts we take for granted.

Prayers – Our physical bodies to be strengthened and prepared for the work before us; listening and following God’s leading in ministry while in Texas; protection during spring winds and storms; changed lives for kids, youth, and adult groups that will be attending Lake Lavon Camp.

Because of this, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but the only one who is anything is God who makes it grow.  The one who plants and the one who waters work together, but each one will receive their own reward for their own labor.  We are God’s coworkers . . .  I Corinthians 3:7-9a  CEB (Common English Bible)

Hello to our followers, family, and friends:

Howdy all y’all!  We’re in Texas now and ready for our April volunteer work at a “new” SOWER project.  More about that next month.

So, March continued our “vacation/time off” patterns, along with getting more comfortable in our new home.  We figured out how to adjust the vents to keep all our rooms most comfortable, used the electric heat pump for heat overnight, started the electric fire place to take the chill off “downstairs” in the morning, used the air conditioning much less, and used less electricity than before leading to a much lower electric bill. 

Connie continued in the plastic mat class, finally completing a 3’ x 6’ mat before we left at the end of the month; finished a free-form design stained glass candle front that she used to better her skills for cutting and soldering; and she started and spent many hours on her large stained glass project, to remain a secret for now until it is finished and delivered.  Because of limited “class” time, she tried to work outside but the wind and weather didn’t cooperate very well, then realized she could get a key to the wood shop and had a very spacious stained glass set up for a few weeks.  Connie also got our new vehicles titled and registered in South Dakota so we could transfer our license plates before traveling, several days of calls and forms going back and forth.

John focused on getting rid of things and packing/repacking the truck and trailer, accompanied by a lot of thought and prayer for practically accessing tools and weight distribution.  He also completed a few shelves in the office/music room for our recording speakers and computer.   We picked up our SOWER friends at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport one afternoon, and John drove and survived the trip!  Amidst all the busyness, God blessed him (and Connie) with some wonderful words for a song that has been “in-the-making” for several years.

Our patience continued to be tested with things breaking or going wrong.  March 1 the main TV quit receiving a signal from the antenna.  (We are spoiled having 2 TVs, really more of an inconvenience.)  The tonneau cover on the truck started jamming in the middle, we straightened and tightened the track, not making it any better, and agreed to use some manual assistance to make it work.  John had a flat on his bicycle, easily repaired with a super duty inner tube.  And a few days before leaving the microwave quit; that really makes one appreciate what we take for granted every day.

With all the move-in boxes cleared there were quite a few things for the RV Resort “free” table, Goodwill, Craigslist, and the resort yard sale.  We prepared ourselves and woke up to cloudy skies, a few sprinkles, and lots of wind.  The morning started at a very cold and damp 45 degrees, eventually making it to 55.  We took shifts, getting chilled to the bone, and did a lot more talking than selling!

Our Monday night Bible studies continued with our final gathering including a fire pit, communion, and anointing (a retired pastor led our studies).  We continued biking/walking to church and Sunday School classes, having lunch with a special couple before we left (she also made some fantastic cookies for our travels).  One Sunday we accompanied our worship leader music friends to their church in Sun City (about an hour away).  It was a wonderful service with people from many nations; truly full of like-minded Christian people.  We were blessed by the message and music, as well as lunch.  They usually have a meal following service but this week they celebrated their Pastor’s birthday with a catered meal of salad, roasted potato medley, grilled vegetables, shrimp, salmon, tarragon sauce, and carrot cake!

Early in the month a “resort regular” arrived from North Dakota (Gordy “Crazy Fingers” Lindquist) and shared his talent in a concert.  Later in the month there was a 2-hour gathering, with lots of finger food, and a guitarist sharing a variety of music genres.  We heard the same comments from each of these musicians, as with us; there are almost no places to share our gifts (due to Covid restrictions) and any audience is so appreciated.  We made another trip into Phoenix to help our son with a few more home repairs (and do laundry).  We met our Chinese family (they refer to us as Aunt and Uncle) at their home for a wonderful time of fellowship, an outdoor Chinese lunch where they work, a bicycle ride ending with cold sprinkles, and Connie shared and demonstrated the making of plarn and how to crochet (very interesting with interpretation).  They sent us home with lots of Chinese greens from their garden.  As travel day became closer, there were several more “goodbye” meals, prayers, hugs, and some tears as well.

Travel day 1 we hit the road again, with much prayer to calm our anxious hearts and fears.  With our new vehicles we decided to take the shorter “mountain” route and had no trouble pulling up hills or slowing down hill!  We stopped early on and realized we didn’t plug in our lights or emergency cord (that will be added to our check list soon to be created!).  We traveled through the Tonto National Forest at 4000 feet, still going up, then downhill with our engine brake feature keeping us safe.  There were some really nasty bathrooms at a city park with neighboring chickens and peacocks.  This day included lots of ear-popping, a 13’6” tunnel, cows, cattle, harvested cotton fields, irrigated lush green alfalfa fields, snow-topped mountains in the distance, and we crossed the Continental Divide.  Still learning about our turning radius (or lack of) we went over a few curbs, but missed the landscape rock, getting parked at Walmart in Las Cruces, New Mexico for our first night with open windows for cool sleeping.

Day 2 of travel started with Connie driving through El Paso, Texas.  Temperatures had us driving with the a/c on (91 at 4 pm, but the trailer felt quite cool compared to our previous trailers) with westerly winds registering 16 mph when we stopped for the night.  We were into Texas oil fire pipes, oil wells, sand pits, and wind farms for scenery.  We stopped at an RV park for an electric hookup with temperatures falling to 40 overnight, dodged tree branches getting into our site, then had power fluctuations causing our surge protector to turn off and on several times throughout the night.

Day 3 of travel was even windier (sustained 20 mph most of the day) making for a slower, harder drive.  The “textured” pavement didn’t help either but having green grass most of the way was nice!  There was a stretch of interstate where we had a Deja vu moment – the scenery looked much like the Wisconsin I-43 rest area between East Troy and Milwaukee; same split in the road, hills, and trees.  We stopped at another Walmart, had trouble getting our bedroom slide out as well as sleeping with noisy gatherings and cars with noisy engines.  Lots of prayers for protection and quiet, and God provided! 

Day 4 – our final day of travel – was short and sweet.  Connie drove the interstate south of Fort Worth and Dallas, then turned north through Dallas and Plano, Texas.  We expected to get into country driving, but that didn’t happen as the cities ran together until the final 20 minutes of our trip.  We arrived at Lake Lavon Camp shortly after noon, managed to get the bedroom slide out again, and relaxed as we put a few things away and assessed our travel skills – not too bad for our first travel with new vehicles!  Our curiosity over handling, gas mileage, and maneuvering were all answered.  With the van/trailer we were around 6.5-7 mpg; now 7.3-10.5 mpg!  Before we were down to 35-45 mph going uphill, and feeling pretty unstable over 65; now steep hills 50-55 mph and easy driving at 65-70 mph.  And, we are much better at judging corners and parking, having no problem with curbs after the first day!

God saved us and chose us to be His holy people, but not because of anything we ourselves did.  God saved us and made us His people because that was what He wanted and because of His grace.  That grace was given to us through Christ Jesus before time began.  And now it has been shown to us in the coming of our Savior Christ Jesus.  He destroyed death and showed us the way to have life.  Yes, through the Good News Jesus showed us the way to have life that cannot be destroyed.  2 Timothy 1:9-10 Easy-to-Read Version

Tune in again next month for our volunteer and ministry update!

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 – SaltyStrings@hotmail.com
Facebook – Salty Strings Music Ministry
Web site:  SaltyStrings.com

ONLINE DONATIONS via PayPal through our web site

TRAVEL PLANS AND UPCOMING LOCATIONS

  • April 1-May 27 –Lake Lavon Christian Camp & Conference Center, Princeton, TX
  • June – heading back to the Midwest to see our friends and families
  • July-August – tentative – Northwest Wisconsin; possible music opportunities
  • September-October – tentative – project(s) and family in Virginia
  • November through winter – tentative – Florida