The Salt Shaker

The Salt Shaker – November/December 2022

The Lord provides everything we need – please remove falsehood and lies, give us neither poverty or riches, feed us with food that is needful for us (physically, mentally, and spiritually) and help us to be satisfied with everything You supply’  Journal God Lesson, December 2022

Praises – New property for time off between projects; safe travels; lots to do but no time clock

Prayers – Reimbursements settled for truck repairs; repairs and fixes needed to rent property; continued health and energy  

Hello to our family, followers, and friends:

Something different for this update – it is two months and we are inserting some of Connie’s journal “God Lessons” throughout.  With all that has been going on we just haven’t had the inspiration and focus to collect our thoughts.  As a friend pointed out “sometimes it is difficult to write about things when you are not emotionally settled yourself” – how true!
Jesus – He embodied truth, He didn’t embellish the truth

Thanksgiving came and went; we were invited along with a few others to dinner and Connie was grumbling about southern cornbread dressing but to her surprise it was bread dressing almost like Great Grandma’s!  A Christmas present arrived from our youngest son, our first in years, with great homemade goodies, what a surprise.  We put up our Christmas wreath and lights on a timer and enjoyed them in the evening and again as we got up in the dark mornings.  The Academy President had a Christmas Open House with a beautifully decorated home and great food; we arrived with our big truck parking close to the carport and were blocked in by a Daihatsu mini-truck maintenance vehicle!  Our last Sunday we attended the Presbyterian Church and were surprised with a potluck Christmas lunch and “free” food to bring home as they cleared the cooler for Christmas break. 

John continued to work at the new counseling center with electrical and CAT5 wiring, fixtures, wall and ceiling insulation, some small wall builds, and the last window installed.  The guys also finished up the cabinet drawers and doors in a dorm (lots of fussing to get drawers to slide and look straight), assembly of new cabinets, a drop ceiling in a High School classroom, and some demolition work in another building – lots of climbing up and down ladders!

Connie continued staining as weather permitted, serving lunch at the Dining Hall, and helped with the French Camp Christmas bread mailing (the main reason she came).   A storm right before mail date brought disruption to computer services and several days of delays and IT work, meaning nothing for the ladies to do.  Finally, the day came when 1500+ loaves were “taped” and on their way.  More waiting then the second wave came and Connie loaded the USPS bins.

With three days left of our December volunteer work, John came home at lunch to stretch on the floor, not an unusual practice.  This time, however, he didn’t get up. He slowly improved over the next week, going from ‘ape-like’ movements leaning on anything nearby to standing straight and able to walk more normal.  By the weekend he was slowly able to put his tools away and start preparations to move north to a RV Park in Iuka, MS about 20 minutes from our property. 

After our October real estate day of adventure, we received a call from our realtor friend in Corinth with some new land parcels for sale.  November 9, we travelled again and did lots of hiking around several parcels and through some rented dwellings; lots of money, repairs with everything, as well as fleas in one mobile home.  John found one listing online with a “pending inspection” offer accepted.  We toured the 6 acres with a house and mobile home mid-afternoon, and made a full price offer.  On the way back we prayed that whatever the outcome, God would be in control.  The inspection was not favorable (but nothing we couldn’t handle with our SOWER skills over the years), the other party backed out, we countered at a lower price (the figure we originally wanted) and by the 19th had a verbal acceptance along with 2 free inspection reports!  On December 9th we became property owners again, took care of all the things that come with purchasing property, stayed overnight at a hotel with each enjoying a long hot soaking bath – our first “bath” in many years!
The Sunday prior to closing the worship included “Waymaker” leading Connie into complete assurance and peace (with lots of tears).  That evening we had a text with the preliminary closing statement!  Plus, the evening devotion had some names of Jesus (Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace) to which we added Waymaker, Miracle Worker, Promise Keeper, and Light in the Darkness.

The next afternoon the up-and-down game began.  We scheduled a driveway contractor to meet us at noon, he was delayed, we ate our lunch in the truck, the rain started, he arrived and John braved the weather to discuss a possible circle drive around the back with RV pad(s).  We found the mobile home had not been emptied.  The HVAC people were not responding, finally getting an answer that we had to go with “mobile home” service people.  With 5 days of below freezing weather coming (very non-typical of Mississippi) we shut off the water, drained lines, and used space heaters inside to keep it above freezing – which worked except one heater didn’t turn back on after a “rolling blackout.”  On the “up” side, only 1 dead mouse, we do have most of the tools in the mobile home now, it is almost empty, the electric panel is labeled (one of the things in the inspection report), it was a beautiful day when we insulated the mobile home water pipes, and we really enjoyed hiking the paths and day-dreaming of the days we can spend here between our travels.
It is hard to let go of our expectations – God is saying slow down, in My time

With lots of unplanned days off Connie was able to make phone calls to contractors and clearing up some ongoing frustrations.  After 5 months of lengthy conversations, the fraud charges were cleared on one of our credit cards.  After 14 months and involvement of the FCC, our “free phones” when we switched carriers have been refunded!  Now, all that is left is working with the Chevy dealer for a refund of parts and labor.  Connie also had some time to do a few crochet items – another hot pad (now being used as a doily), a back wash cloth (it works very well), a hat for the chilly morning walks (not used, weather warmed up), and preparing to finish up a granny square blanket with squares done by her Mom and Grandma many years ago.  So far that’s been research, layout planning, tying in yarn ends, and correcting mistakes.
Don’t be led astray, trust God to give you wisdom, be faithful, be alert and pray – focus on the overall plan: salvation in Christ and His return.

The weather these last two months has been another up-and-down stressor.  November brought some nights where Connie was awake waiting for storms to pass through and wind rattling the trailer, including one suppertime trip to the basement level of the high school for a tornado warning.  She has found that putting her head at the foot of the bed helps because the slide cover rattling isn’t as loud, this is not very easy to do in the middle of the night so there was another night she slept the whole night that way.  December 1 was the first day Connie went without socks again for a while. There were many just below freezing nights and a few days with the A/C on in the afternoon.  On those ‘chilled-to-the-bone’ days we always looked forward to a nice hot shower to end the day.

In November we had another truck DEF issue.  The ‘Low DEF’ light came on (on our way to a music event), we added about 2 gallons of fluid, surprised that it was full already.  Two days later the warning appeared again and it went back to the shop; a “no charge” unknown glitch, ok now fix.  In December we managed to lock ourselves out of the truck at our property with no cell service!  Thankfully our house tenants were home and graciously let us use their phone and stay warm inside while we waited.  We now double check before the last one leaves the truck for keys – it was supposed to be a 15-minute stop to start a second heater in the mobile home. 
Never stop waiting on God—no matter our age—with great expectations. 

We were able to share some music during November, both were jam sessions with 10-20 people, after a luncheon with fellow SOWERs and after a very special Birthday Party.  December brought an opportunity to share after a church ladies’ luncheon (with husbands for Christmas), another small group due to a funeral that day.  It was harder this time since we weren’t practiced up and our ‘playing together’ skills haven’t been used for a while.  We will definitely have to make this a priority!
God’s Way – a time of waiting is also an opportunity to prepare.

We can thankfully call ourselves seasoned travelers now after making it through the Christmas cold, what they are calling ‘once in a generation’ Mississippi weather.  We disconnected our water hose and put the RV pump and tank heaters on; ran the fireplace, gas furnace, and two space heaters; and prayed a lot for the start of 5 days of below freezing weather.  The water pump quit early morning of night 1 (4 degrees outside) so we started using our backup plan with water jugs and rationing water use (we could refill them outside after the 2nd day).  Our second night was chilly and we found our outside door was open slightly letting in very cold air in the middle of the night.  We also experienced our first ‘rolling power outage’ about 10 minutes after John read about it.  With most of our comfort coming from electric sources it was a blessing it only happened once for about 15 minutes; we lost 3 degrees inside temperature during that short time.  Christmas Day was spent inside with a high of 32 degrees and a wonderful dinner.  We missed a white Christmas by one day – it started snowing the 26th about 9am and continued until 4pm, perhaps an inch total, reminding us why we started traveling south in the winter.
Would you not open a Christmas gift!  God has an unearned, undeserved gift for everyone. 

Our water pump resumed working the last day of the deep freeze, we unloaded the RV “basement” and checked for leaks, PRAISE GOD, we had hot running water again and it was great using the sink and hot soapy water for dishes.  We waited another day before hooking up the hose and it was wonderful to take nice hot showers!  Our property mobile home didn’t freeze inside, even though one of the heaters remained off after a rolling blackout.  We are waiting for a warmer, dryer, sunny day to turn the water back on and check for leaks there.

Traveling for so many years now we realize how important community is:  our long-distance friends and family for advice and prayer; our real estate friend for many of the unknowns of Mississippi, providing contacts, and dinner conversation; our SOWER neighbor in packing up our microwave when neither of us could lift it along with a free heater turning out to be so much needed; our new property neighbor providing a fair trade for a free survey line (we lost 0.34 acre to accommodate his driveway), and many more.  Be thankful for those people you can turn to when life gets hard, and be aware and gracious to those needing our help. 
“. . . lead (bring) us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one . . .” – maturity means moving from our independence to our dependence on Him.

May each of you and your families have a blessed and wonderful New Year!

A fool multiplies words.  Man doesn’t know what will be; and that which will be after him, who can tell him?  Ecclesiastes 10:14 NIV ~ Trusting our future to God

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 website

TRAVEL PLANS AND UPCOMING LOCATIONSVery Tentative
January/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 hopeful house renovation/rental
June – north central Illinois (Carlinville, Clinton) family and volunteer work
July – Illinois/Wisconsin (Clinton, IL – Portage, WI) family, volunteer, music

The Salt Shaker – October 2022

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

Praises – Returning strength and energy; beautiful fall days

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

Hello to our followers, friends, and family:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John and Connie Nicholas
Salty Strings Music Ministry

Contact Information:
Mail:  John & Connie Nicholas
Salty Strings Music Ministry
3916 N. Potsdam Ave. #3962
Sioux Falls, SD  57104

Phone – John 909-336-8910 or Connie 909-336-8912
Email – 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 30 – December – SOWER Project, French Camp, Mississippi
  • January/February – unknown winter stay, possibly Texas, Florida, Louisiana ???

The Salt Shaker – September 2022

With every sun’s rising, surprise us with Your love, satisfy us with Your kindness.  Then we will sing with joy and celebrate every day we are alive.  Psalm 90:14 The Voice Bible

Praises – The wonderful friendly people in Corinth; Even with all our struggles this month we remain faithful, God still uses us, and we are truly thankful for the blessings we have

PrayersMore truck repairs needed for related or the same problem; lingering illness symptoms to improve (cough, energy, stamina)

Hello to our family, friends, and followers:

Our first week in Corinth we had a guided tour including the Coca Cola Museum (headquarters are still in Corinth) and the downtown buildings that have been restored/remodeled and repurposed.  It is a beautiful, friendly community with lots of history.  We took a trip with our bicycles to find a place to do some riding and ended up riding on the walking trail (a winding 1 mile path) and around the Sports Complex, probably 3 miles total.  John rode once on the county road but found that was too busy, bumpy, and hilly for safe riding.  Later in the month we made a date to meet our Tennessee friends for dinner in Grand Junction, TN.  Grand Junction was once a nice little crossroads community; now there is one restaurant with some good food and a beautiful small memorial park.  It is always interesting to notice the buildings and signage from days past, figuring out family connections and in this case the history of one notable woman of the community. 

Our “goals” for the month didn’t happen as we hoped.  John was not feeling well on Friday the 2nd and was really sick on Monday the 5th.  Connie joined him on the 6th and we both stayed home at least 2 weeks and still had no energy and lingering sinus-type cold symptoms (fondly referred to as “Mississippi crud” around here).  We had to cancel a luncheon music program on the 6th which made us feel even worse.  During this time our newsletter update was finally completed (hard to do between naps, staying focused, and a few internet problems).  Connie recovered sooner and started updating and cleaning up computer files including transferring some older music files to touch up for our website – quite time consuming but necessary.

Our service technician for the trailer came, replaced our converter, and briefly solved the inverter issue.  We tested it again and still had error codes, even after following the manual “test” procedures.  He didn’t come back for the other repairs we requested – we will eventually try to find someone in this area to finish up our fixes.  We were able to stabilize our pantry shelves however.  Connie got in a shopping mood (once we got out and about again) and bought clips and strips to be installed in place of the broken plastic ones (with a bit of help from John) and the shelves remained level as we travelled! 

Being inside a lot, Connie got creative and tried some new things with baking.  Along with biscuits (baked in the air frier, still working on easy separation for the toaster) she has made a few chocolate cakes (her grandma’s recipe) baked in the microwave.  The recipe makes a very moist cake, unless you overcook it in the microwave – the second time she added some peanut butter and chocolate chips, covered with plastic wrap and less cooking time – yummy!  There was also a failed instant pot yogurt batch; the electricity was off (while we worked on the inverter) and it didn’t recover like she hoped making it more like yogurt cream.

While John was still recovering Connie was invited to a Ladies Day.  She enjoyed the fellowship and getting to know some church ladies better on the trip to and from Memphis as well as the lunch and speaker.  They had a craft fair at the end and she spied some crochet hot pads with a unique “waffle” texture – after some research she found patterns for crochet and knit “waffle stitch” as well as a slight crochet variation.  Back to the yarn scraps to make 5 hot pads.  It felt good to do something during TV time and they were all easy and fun patterns. 

The RV Park was on the southern edge of Corinth, a great location for church and shopping trips.  They have a laundry area with one washer and a coin dryer ($1) that was very handy.  The first use Connie was surprised by a very large salamander possibly (it didn’t look like a lizard) when she opened the door to retrieve our clothes from the dryer.  She didn’t scream, it quickly disappeared under the dryer, and she remained very cautious removing the clothes from the dryer.  The second time held no surprises but the heavier items didn’t dry completely leading to innovative clothes lines in the trailer.  The last time the dryer didn’t even get hot and we had hangers and our “new” $1.99 drying rack everywhere – bedroom, shower, cabinet doors, etc. 

We became quite familiar with the figure 8 gravel road and hill to the county road as we walked almost every day.  The first 3 weeks were very hot so the walks were shorter, earlier in the morning, and again just before sunset on the days when we had a bit of energy.  During our last week John looked out the window, kept watching, and eventually had Connie look as well.  There was what appeared to be a mourning dove very still in the loop drive.  We prepared for our morning walk and it was still there!  It still didn’t move as we headed that way, and we found out why – it was an upright rock with the shape and shadows making it look realistic through our trailer window. 

Our last week had cooler temperatures as well as a bit more energy, making the full circuit twice (almost 2 miles) some days.  We woke up one morning to a very chilly trailer, not realizing the overnight temperature was in the 50’s and we had failed to turn on the heaters before bed.  We had to get out our heat pump instruction manual and refresh our memory to keep the gas furnace from turning on – it smells from not being used much as well making the bedroom too hot for comfortable sleeping.  After a few nights we found the right mix of heater settings.

John made contact with Waldron Street Christian Church prior to our arrival and we were scheduled for an evening concert (with homemade ice cream) on the 4th.  Our practice that afternoon was without singing from tickling-throat coughing fits, but the concert went well and the ice cream was great.  We even had a container to bring some home with us!

We were feeling well enough by the end of the month to attend Sunday School, Worship, and the evening Bible Study on our last Sunday in Corinth, MS.  The evening study was from a video series by Ray Vander Laan that covered the locations and connections with Jewish tradition for what we celebrate as our Palm Sunday and Last Supper.  We tagged along afterwards for the Mexican restaurant supper and fellowship.

The last Wednesday of the month is a church potluck fellowship supper.  We were blessed to attend in August and took 24 pepperoncini deviled eggs this time (only 6 came home for John).  Wonderful fabulous food and fellowship, and a chance for our final good-byes before we leaving this area. 

The end of the month found us packing up to head 128 miles southwest to our volunteer project in French Camp, MS.  We were running a bit behind but wanted to walk the “city tour” before leaving as well as our final fuel fill and Aldi’s grocery stock up.  The check engine light came on Wednesday night after the church potluck so we stopped at the Chevy dealer first, just to be sure it wouldn’t be a problem for travel.  It was a major problem needing two DEF modules; thankfully they were able to squeeze us into their full schedule. 

Connie was ready for lunch so she emptied a bag of peanuts from the vending machine while John drank coffee and our inquiries eventually produced a ride into town so we could do our walking tour.  It started at the visitor center but there was a train on the tracks blocking our way; we waited then walked around a few blocks on the “wrong side of the tracks” before the train left.  By this time hunger was controlling our direction so we did the reverse tour for 6-8 blocks to get to the oldest drug store still in the same family in Mississippi, Borroum’s Drug Store, where we had slug-burgers for the second time and split a wonderful chocolate malt in this historic building.  The dealer called, sending someone for their road test along with picking us up, but the truck was packed with only 2 seats!  Connie stayed behind, enjoying the sunshine and breeze in front of the court house, until John returned to pick her up after 3 pm.  We made our stops and headed home to continue packing.

Friday morning Connie was up early to finish the inside packing, we pulled in the slides and hooked up, then she realized the trailer back-up camera that she got to work earlier in the month was still tucked away in a cabinet under the TV.  She decided to wriggle through the opening at the end of the counter, past the sink island, to the cabinet, and back to the counter realizing when you slither in on your belly you can’t get out on your back or side!  John missed a great video opportunity and Connie’s rib cage was sore for a few days.

As we were ready to leave, we noticed an unusual noise from the engine, nothing we could find, but no engine light, so we headed out.  Our travel went well, cool enough to wear a sweatshirt, and we took the shorter mileage route with our last 80 miles on the Natchez Trace.  A beautiful drive, perhaps a bit too relaxing with a 50-mph speed limit, mostly wooded, with historic turn-offs barely big enough for us to use our trailer facilities.  We arrived and were mostly set up by 1 pm giving us a very leisurely afternoon before meeting our fellow SOWER volunteers (a total of 6 couples this month) after supper.

“For thus says the Lord God:  I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out . . . so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered . . . I will feed them . . . with good pasture . . . they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed . . . I myself will make them lie down . . . I will seek the lost and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak . . .”  Ezekiel 34:11-16 paraphrased, English Standard 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

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

The Salt Shaker – August 2022

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

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

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

Hello to our followers, friends, and family:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John and Connie Nicholas
Salty Strings Music Ministry

Contact Information:
Mail:  John & Connie Nicholas
Salty Strings Music Ministry
3916 N. Potsdam Ave. #3962
Sioux Falls, SD  57104

Phone – John 909-336-8910 or Connie 909-336-8912
Email – 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 27 – September 30 – Cross City RV, Corinth, Mississippi
*September 30 – December – SOWER Project, French Camp, Mississippi

The Salt Shaker – July 2022

“For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands.  He knows your going through this great wilderness.  These forty years the Lord your God has been with you.  You have lacked nothing.”   Deuteronomy 2:7 ESV

Praises – Kitchen ceiling fan working, protection and great weather for travel days, memories with friends and family

Prayers – Truck starting trouble, mobile RV service people, recording and getting songs to web page, consistency in exercise and losing weight

Hello to our friends, family and followers:

July 2022 could be summed up as full of food, family, friends, and funerals along with two travel days.  We continued our June stay, adding another 102 hours this month on the sound booth expansion.  John finished up bracing the steps, plywood, drywall (including fixing Connie’s poor seams), braces for countertop and shelves, countertop design/installation, combining old and new oak trim (matched router design pretty well), and designing/modifying shelves.  There was a lot of time sanding wood and drywall, matching existing wood stains, and several coats of polyurethane for the wood parts as well as painting the drywall and a bit of touch-up on some old walls.

Connie helped repurpose some old materials, made stain mixes, finished wiring the new plugs, and dealt with all the media cords and wires.  The “sound” stuff was dismantled on a Monday morning, moved out of the way, and put back on the new countertop the following Saturday.  Thanks to prayers and lots of photos the sound check in the afternoon went very well (once we remembered to turn on the power strip) and after a glitch with the computer keyboard the projection worked as well.  This was a collective effort including many church participants with donations of materials, loaning of equipment, multiple minds for the “how-to-do’s” and labor!  Our thanks to all who helped us finish this expansion.

We enjoyed our Sundays at Lane Church as well as all our visits with so many friends in this area.  There were 2 invites for cookouts where we enjoyed grilled steak, chicken, bratwurst, and veggies along with chocolate and peach pie; many meals out with church friends; a visit with Connie’s puzzle friend in Weldon (the last city we lived in), and with a shut-in.  After sharing the saying on a plaque John saw somewhere we received a trailer-size travel-friendly version for our home. 

This month also included helping at the funeral dinner for an older member of the church as well as attending two funerals.  Another church member, about our age, planned his funeral in December when he went into hospice care.  He wanted his funeral to clearly present the message of eternal life for those who accept Jesus as their savior; it did and even included an altar call at the end.  The day before we left, we attended the funeral of our friend from the care facility.  This funeral was a celebration of life with fantastic piano and organ music, and we heard him sing “The King is Coming” at his own funeral.  All the funerals were exceptional as we learned more about these men of faith.  We added another thing-to-do to our list – plan our funerals since we never know when our last days and end of this life will be.  Who knows, perhaps we will sing at our own funerals or have an altar call.

These are some other notable events, in no particular order, from the month.  John’s coffee maker “died” causing much grief until a new one was found a week later.  The end of June and early July is strawberry time in the north, prompting a text from our oldest son in Phoenix (as well as a family chat) for Connie’s grandma’s shortcake recipe – we prefer a sweeter biscuit type shortcake covered with mashed strawberries and whip cream.  Our truck airbag recall was finally taken care of and John’s “new” bicycle was packed up and returned, in this case two strikes and you’re out.  The Illinois country roads for our commute to church are narrow, two lane, no center stripe, with lots of 45 degree turns – it was quite a surprise to see a helicopter at the end of a straight stretch.  It landed in the grassy outside corner of the turn and took off just as we rounded the bend, back to crop dusting!   

We had two opportunities for music this month.  The first was at Lane Church where we did a special piece along with the worship music for the service.  Our second program was at a new facility in Lincoln, IL.  Our former host and joke teller from the “Jolly Seniors” group was in this facility due to a stroke and his wife made the contact, knowing he would appreciate hearing us again.  However, we received a message from her that morning letting us know he had died.  Our choice of songs and ministry was very well received; we had forgotten how much residents of care facilities enjoy the older songs and chatter we bring! 

Connie had some time alone to finish up the curtains only to find new rods were needed as well as an end cap repair before they could be hung; new rods were ordered and the curtains laid aside for now.  She finished the shawl and researched weaving in the ends, but hasn’t tackled that yet (will make future yarn joins a bit different so this daunting task will not be needed!).  There was a deep cleaning day, cleaning both air conditioners and the kitchen ceiling fan (a bit greasy from previous owners).  The fan had quit opening up but to her surprise it worked fine after manually opening it to clean.  Right before packing, she pulled out all the stained glass pieces, printed off the patterns, and set aside pieces to use next month.

On Thursday, July 21 we had an enjoyable large breakfast before leaving at 11 am to go north to see more friends and family.  After an accident-prone morning (John ramming his big toe, scraping his arm, bumping his head, and breaking a finger nail as a water spigot broke) we had good travel weather and traffic.  We arrived and found we could pull through into our spot with great ease, got settled with the a/c on, then met friends for supper, great blessings to end our day.

We were in the Beloit, WI area for only a week so the eating out began as we visited with 10 people:  Connie’s old school friends, John’s first barber in the area, and owners of the bagel shop where we played on Saturday mornings getting a good foundation for our music ministry.  Our oldest son was in the area (from Phoenix) and he chauffeured us in his Tesla rental to see our grand-daughter’s day camp program (what a treat!).  Tesla’s are pretty neat, all kinds of gadgets and a “frunk!” (Front trunk).

We had a Sunday afternoon family gathering at Beckman Mill with 14 total for a potluck picnic followed by some photos.  We walked around the beautiful grounds and remembered many other events here that involved us.  Our “missing” son from Virginia was with us through a gift John received while at the picnic – a new job T-shirt advertising Paul Reed Smith guitars.  Our last evening, we were able to see Connie’s sister and husband and eat out one final time.  Our first choice had a car show but the food line was too long so we moved into town and enjoyed our time with them.  John enjoyed the car show, seeing a 1957 Studebaker Hawk, but preferred his ride in one (1960) while we were at one of our cookout invites. 

The weather in Beloit was quite warm and a bit muggy, we had two thunder storms, one leaving us with no power for a few hours but no damage.  We took a few walks in the evening, enjoyed 2 laps around the Lagoon in Beloit, and Connie had her first laundromat visit in a long time (3 loads and only lost $1 to faulty driers).  We accomplished our Wisconsin “must do” things – stock up on bagels from Bagels and More and get Prime Time calzone, leaving with over a dozen bagels in the freezer and calzone we ate for our travel lunch (the rest never made it to the freezer)!

Thursday, July 28 we were up early to finish packing, leaving at 10 am and enjoying calzone as we traveled south to our August SOWER project.  We arrived at 3:30, parked under a street lamp, and had just a few sprinkles as we finished.  Not as good a location as we hoped with a wifi/phone signal that comes and goes, and we (Connie) misjudged where the daytime sun would travel (north was not quite where she thought it was).  We are glad to be back to another of our “home” churches and were invited to lunch after Sunday’s service, with a total of 10 gathered – how wonderful to be a part of God’s HUGE family.

Here in Carlinville, IL, our humming birds have returned to our feeder (very aggressive), we picked up an insect that traveled 3 miles into town from the camp, replaced our old falling apart lawn chairs, and attended an ice cream social/community band concert with a bassoon but no bass clarinet (there is a 41-year-old story here) all in the first 3 days of our arrival.  The town square was full and there was a beautiful fiery orange-red brilliant sunset to finish the evening.

This has been a very precious time in our travels; our visits with family and friends old and new, creating wonderful new memories, and sharing remembrances of the past, both good and bad.  This is what makes up the fabric of life for all of us.  May we truly enjoy our time with each other when we can, there may not be another opportunity.

“ . . . your punishment is over. The Lord has forced your enemies to turn and retreat. Your Lord . . . stands at your side; you don’t have to worry about any more troubles. Your God wins victory after victory and is always with you. He celebrates and sings because of you, and he will refresh your life with his love.”   Zephaniah 3:15, 17 paraphrased CEV 

Until next month – 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 28 – August 26 – SOWER Project, Carlinville, IL
  • August 26 – September 28 – Month off, Cross City RV Park, Corinth, MS
  • September 28 – December – SOWER Project, French Camp, Mississippi

The Salt Shaker – June 2022

“In all the work you are given, do the best you can.  Work as though you are working for the Lord, not any earthly master.  Remember that you will receive your reward from the Lord, who will give you what he promised his people.  Yes, you are serving Christ.  He is your real Master.”  Colossians 3:23-24 Easy-to-Read Version

Praises – Arm healing-no bandage, showers and sleeping great (finally); precious time with family; safe travels; our church work helpers and gifts of cookies and food!

Prayers – Continued recording; time and wisdom for web page songs; on-site diagnosis/troubleshooting for RV repairs convertor/invertor/battery and heat pump/fan; September location/plans

Hello to our friends, followers, and family:

Our extra week of rest at our previous volunteer project went very quickly!  We treated ourselves to lunch out in Lewisburg as we topped off our gas and supplies, passing by the dragon mailbox and dinosaur sculpture along the way (never did stop and get pictures).  It was a very hot and humid packing up day, Connie never left the trailer, and we were on our way north on June 2nd.  Our first day was overcast with lots of construction delays and we went a few hours further than planned to find a Walmart that allowed overnight parking.  We purchased our usual supper snacks and settled in bed only to have a noisy refer semi park next to us.  We didn’t get much sleep between temperature and noise. 

Travel day 2 brought the good news-we could walk to McDonald’s for a nice breakfast before leaving.  The bad news-their lobby was closed, so we headed out, stopping about an hour later for gas and breakfast eaten in the truck.  We arrived in Macomb, IL about 12:30 pm and were unhitched a bit before 2 pm, after numerous attempts to keep all trailer wheels on the narrow mobile home wheel tracks on this lot.  We found that our invertor had not worked during our travels and our refrigerated items were bad.  The freezer had not yet thawed thankfully.  We proceeded to order Chinese carry-out, get some groceries, eat dinner, enjoy a wonderful shower (always refreshing after 2 travel days) and crashed for the night.

Our setup was the essentials only since this was a short, 1 week stay to visit with family and friends in the area.  John was able to see his brother a couple of times, had a great afternoon visit with an aunt, and time with his sister and niece.  We took a few bike rides, a bit tough since it’s been a while, and ate out quite a bit.  On one of our many lunches with family John’s parking was just a bit over zealous, we try to keep our long truck backend in as far as possible. 

We packed up (in a slight misty rain) and were back on the road on June 10 traveling to our home church camp outside Clinton, IL.  The travels went well, we were parked before the rain started up and headed into town for an early supper.  Again, our invertor didn’t work.  The “light” was on but not the refrigerator.  This was a short trip and nothing spoiled.  We have checked all the manuals and racked our brains (more than once), determining it is time to find an expert to check each component and find the problem(s).

We will be here for 3 more weeks, about as permanent as it gets lately, so our trailer décor is up again making things feel more like home.  Within an hour after hanging our hummingbird feeder our humming friends found it.  We have seen deer, rabbits, and a golden hawk soaring above, typical of our stays here.  The weather has been extremely hot and humid and, as usual it is windy, but so nice to be back in our home area.

John started right in with 25 volunteer hours by the end of the month for the camp.  He painted some gutters and an exterior door, adjusted the door closer, and cleaned dried-on tile grout from 4 showers.  Lots of scrubbing!  Along with this, he measured and provided a material list for our home church’s sound booth expansion and volunteered another 40 hours with Connie by the end of the month.  The old end wall was removed, new 2×6 side walls, stringers, floor joists, and plywood with trap doors added.  Connie found mineral spirits and lots of scraping worked best to get most of the sticky glue from the floor –it was still a bit sticky but you could walk across the floor and your shoes stayed on your feet! 

Salty Strings had one program in June in Lincoln, IL.  We realized we haven’t used our new sound system much at all and really had to reach way back trying to remember how we hooked it all up!  Everything must have been correct once we boosted the volume because we had many positive comments about our instruments and song choices, as well as a great meal.  This program allowed us to visit a friend in town before we headed back home, she is such a blessing to us and we were able to reminisce about her family as well.  We have two events coming up in July and one concert for sure in August.  We are busy and blessed to be able to share our music ministry with so many in the coming months.

We decided to order two folding bicycles after trying one at a local bicycle shop (too expensive for us there).  They arrived very quickly and John assembled his the next day.  He had a problem with a broken valve stem and couldn’t even ride it for a few days.  Connie’s old bicycle hasn’t worked well for quite some time and the new assembly went smoothly followed by a short ride around the camp.  It is a bit different, much shorter pedaling radius, and her knees were a bit sore (remedied by some seat/handlebar adjustments later).  John fixed the valve stem, we had another longer ride around camp, and then he “folded” them up and found they are quite easy to fit into the back seat for travel (what we were hoping to accomplish).  When he took them out of the truck and “un-folded” them, his handlebar tightening thingy stripped out, and after much thought and prayer we decided to return his and order a different brand.

With all the heat and humidity Connie has stayed in the trailer quite a bit, but has not been idle.  She started with several days of hemming pants for John, 4 pair total.  Then she worked on the living room curtains, undoing several fabric tape edges and shortening them.  It has been a slow process but only two windows are not done at the end of the month.  She used what she had, hand washing the panels in the sink and turning our counter top into an ironing board for her lightweight travel-size iron.  There were a few pins, however, that were left on the floor, inadvertently (oops). 

Connie completed a better plarn floppy hat and has started a knit shawl from yarn scraps.  The shawl is very random colors and patterns and is fun to work on at night when nothing much is functioning (brain or body).  She enjoys watching her new heart wind ornament (hanging inside where the air vent blows) as well as the hummingbirds while she is crafting and sewing. 

We had a hot but wonderful day of travel back to the Macomb area (without the trailer which is nice) and even topped 20 miles-per-gallon!  With diesel prices so high we don’t make many trips but wanted to see family again while we are fairly close.  We were able to help our niece and husband look at a travel trailer for them to live in until permanent housing is found, took John’s sister her early birthday present, and have supper with his brother and wife before heading back home.  We had early fireworks with double and triple lightning strikes with heavy rain on the way there, good weather after arriving, and more lightning and rain on the way back, getting only slightly wet from the truck to the trailer.  This rain was much needed and the corn grew over a foot higher in just a few days.  We now have to watch all corners for oncoming traffic, even in our tall truck!

“Before mountains were born, before You fashioned the earth and filled it with life, from ages past to distant futures, You are truly God. . . . Teach us to number our days so that we may truly live and achieve wisdom. . . . Let Your work of love be on display for all Your servants; let Your children see Your majesty.  And then let the beauty and grace of the Lord, our God, rest upon us and bring success to all we do; yes, bring success to all we do!
Psalm 90:2, 12, 16-17 The Voice

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
June 10-July 21 – Little Galilee Christian Camp, Clinton, IL volunteer and church help
July 21-28 – Pearl Lake, South Beloit, IL with family and friends
July 28-August 26 – SOWER Project, Carlinville, IL
August 26 – September 28 – Month off, undetermined at this time
September 28-December – SOWER Project, French Camp, Mississippi

The Salt Shaker – May 2022

“I [the Lord] will strengthen you . . . so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me.  I am the Lord, and there is no other” and “From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised”  Isaiah 45:5b-6 and Psalm 113:3 NIV

Praises – Arm healing going well; getting back to recording studio; protection during travel.

Prayers – Continued healing of Connie’s arm, sore skin from bandages and patience for another month; John’s back almost normal; peaceful times to continue recording, knowledge to get old and new songs to web page; safe travel and places to park overnight.

Hello to our family, followers, and friends:

We were ready to hook up and hit the road on Friday morning April 29, feeling good and ready to see some Wisconsin praise band friends for our overnight at their under-construction home near Memphis, TN.  As typical in our travels, we always learn something:  this time was deciphering the Natchez Trace intersections with the highways!  We headed south to catch the highway to the interstate however after a few missed opportunities (because Connie, the navigator, thought they were going on small roads through town) we ended up a long way south with minor roads (hilly, narrow, and low tree branches in several places) to get to the interstate – over an hour for our “quick, easy” interstate access.  The drive went well after that, passing by muddy shallows, geese, ducks, and a small alligator, arriving to good food and conversation and sleeping.  Day 2 of travel started with a wonderful bacon and egg breakfast, skirting around north Memphis, no traffic problems, and lots of bumpy bridges before arriving outside Chapel Hill, Tennessee on Saturday.  We had a beautiful place to park with a view out our main window of the woods, reminiscent of our early new home years in Wisconsin.

The weather was a bit hotter and more humid than we expected with two weeks of above normal temperatures.  When our host asked what kind of work the ladies liked, Connie spoke up with demolition.  Another SOWER lady agreed, and the gals started with taking down the landing and steps from a second-floor exit – pulling nails, hauling material, and cutting with the saws-all!  With a bit of help the task was completed, ending the second day raking wood chips into a tractor bucket for relocation.  After that Connie realized she was being a bit too physical for her arm condition and went to painting – double chapel steel door frames and inside, then covering the new construction deck remodel.  There were a few days of weeding (not fun), blowing up newer and moving old mattresses, and some sign touch-up painting.

There were several walks, about 0.25 miles to the maintenance building from our trailer, a shortcut from the camp area to maintenance, about a mile around the camp, and almost 0.5-mile round trip to the dumpsters with our trash – all of this with lots of critters to see.  There were huge turkeys (two walked past the windows during devotions one morning) in very large groups; the pasture with donkeys, cattle, horses, and sheep; deer, sometimes in front of the truck in the road; and some peacocks fenced in on our drive into town.  John found some armadillo friends at the lady’s shower facility, and Connie had a beautiful iridescent blue tailed with green and yellow body stripes lizard outside the chapel.

John was the primary lead (along with the host) for the lady’s shower doors that needed to be completed in 2 weeks for campers to use.  He had lots of tools for cutting, sanding, glue and clamping, installation, metal roof pieces, special hinge building, and the finished doors (10) looked wonderful!  The final week was little things, tuning up mowers, sharpening blades, raking wood chips, putting away the mattresses the ladies blew up, leaf blowing, and organizing a storage area.  Lots of sweat, dirt, and sawdust included in our 117 volunteer hours this month.  There were a few back problems on arrival, but he worked through them and felt much better with some extra rest after our volunteer work was done. 

Our church experiences were unusual, attending three very different churches during our stay.  We visited the United Methodist Church and Grove Hill Fellowship in Chapel Hill along with Fellowship Community Church outside of Laws Hill.  We went once on a Wednesday night to see the Case for Christ’s Resurrection, very scientific-based proof that verifies Biblical writings.  We were invited to Glenn’s Chapel UMC for a Friday night jam session where there were some great solo singers, a praise team, and we shared a few songs as well.  It was a very warm evening and the air conditioning in this small church had quit, but it was an evening of good pizza, fellowship, and spontaneous prayer as needs arose.

Connie spent a lot of time finishing up some craft projects and using some of the yarn acquired last month.  She made a crocheted back for a reversible hot pad with a very old sample knit pattern for the other side, cut netting to make a dish scrubby-cloth, finished another baby blanket trying to match what was started using up the yarn and adding a ruffled edge, and a baby blanket for a new addition to our niece’s family.  Something to keep her hands busy in the evenings as well as reducing material we’ve been carrying around for years.  This was also a time to let her surgery area be uncovered, hopefully speeding up the healing.  She can now sleep comfortably on her right side (wonderful) and it is very slowly getting smaller, but bandages are still needed.

We are getting used to limited “world” access with another month of poor TV reception, little to no phone reception (unless you find the right spot above the window) and limited use of hotspot that depends on phone signal.  Internet was available at the camp, and worked well when doing laundry, but the phone signal just didn’t exist, even in the nearby town.  We researched getting a signal booster eventually finding that was not an option with our phones – frustrating and discouraging, but a reminder of how easy it is to get into the “we deserve it” instead of remembering our true needs are always provided.  We made arrangements with the camp to stay an extra week, getting a bit more rest, a chance to go through more tutorial videos for recording, complete one song (after discussion and agreement of tracks), work on recording some more, and taking more leisurely walks including finally getting to the Duck River bank where we could see why this is a well-known canoeing area.  The water looked great but there was evidence of very high water in the tree limbs above us (this camp didn’t offer much canoeing last year because the water was so high).

We are looking forward to more traveling next month as well as getting back to our “home” areas of this fabulous land we live in.  Spring always brings the new crops, waving grasses, and even rain and thunderstorms:  but all these are more familiar once we reach Illinois.  Along with visiting family and friends we will be helping enlarge a sound booth at our home church and doing some volunteer work at the camp where we will be staying. 

Make a glad sound to the Lord, all the earth.  Give worship to the Lord with joy; come before Him with a song.  Be certain that the Lord is God; it is He who has made us, and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep to whom He gives food.  Psalm 100:1-3 (Basic English Bible)

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
June 3-10 – Kiljordan Meadows, Macomb, Illinois near family
June 10-July 21 – Little Galilee Christian Camp, Clinton, IL volunteer and church help
July 21-28 – Pearl Lake, South Beloit, IL with family and friends
July 28-August 26 – SOWER Project, Carlinville, IL
August 26 – September 28 – Month off, undetermined RV park at this time
September 28-December – SOWER Project, French Camp, Mississippi

The Salt Shaker – April 2022

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?  Psalm 8:1, 3-4 NIV

Praises – Successful minor surgery and healing process; lots of music, blessing from church offering; internet at RV site enabling Wi-Fi calling.

Prayers – Continued healing of Connie’s arm; summer travels, wisdom, and ministry; convertor replacement

Hello to our friends, followers, and family:

We had pondered for days what time we should leave on Friday, April 1, to “miss” Atlanta traffic, and decided 10 am should work with only 80 miles to get into and through the city.  We got stuck in slow traffic about 15 miles into our journey, a wonderful April Fool’s joke adding about 20 minutes to our trip.  We passed by the Eastaboga (Alabama) exit reminding us of our first project in October 2015 where we attended a Baptist church there.  There was also some anxiety about going through Gordo Alabama where there is a “low” bridge that even the internet could not give us height or semi-truck advice.  We went through town on Highway 82, made it under the bridge, and saved quite a bit of time by not bypassing on smaller Highway roads.  Finally heading south on the Natchez Trace, a beautiful drive for our last 25 miles to French Camp, Mississippi, where we had no phone service (along with everyone else) but thankfully blessed with mostly great internet at our trailer.

As with all of us living in this world there are the good and bad days.  It was wonderful watching spring unfold with beautiful flowers here.  There were horses to see if you walked up the hill, unfortunately that didn’t happen much until the last few days.  There were also a few things that made us smile, shake our heads, and wonder what is happening now-a-days.  The bad day was finding out that our convertor (takes our plug in “shore” power and recharges our batteries which run our lights) was not doing its job.  Fortunately, we have a plug-in battery charger that works to keep our lights on.  We removed some panels and did some diagnostic work the last week; unfortunately, we need a new convertor but think we can replace it on our own.

Connie had been in pain whenever her right arm was moved for several days and was rotating aspirin, Tylenol, and Advil (not at all like her).  Saturday morning she started calling “NurseLine” and checking insurance covered clinics.  The clinic was only 75 miles away however there are no quick routes anywhere in this area of Mississippi; the trip, including getting on the wrong roads a few times, took a bit over 2 hours.  They were able to surgically remove the cyst leaving a large, deep and wide incision that John graciously agreed to tend as it healed from the inside out.  Not fun, for either of us, nor as quick healing as the doctor indicated.  By the end of the month we were able to use a large bandage rather than packing and covering with gauze, and the pain was mostly gone.  The phrase in our marriage vows, “in sickness and health, for better, for worse,” was really tested and we both, with God’s grace, grew to appreciate each other even more.

April, a month to celebrate!  Our anniversary morning break was great with a card signed by all our co-volunteers and great peanut butter drizzled brownies.  April is also tax month, not so great, but once the newsletter was done Connie buckled down and completed our taxes by the deadline.  Our first trip down the road about 40 minutes was for gas (Kangaroo Corner) and Walmart in Kosciusko (we never did learn how to pronounce this city).  Three other trips were to Starkville about 50 minutes for Lowe’s, Walmart, a Chinese Buffet anniversary lunch, and a music store where John was able to get the action on his Taylor guitar adjusted.  Well worth the driving.

Throughout the month we had lots of music engagements.  It started with a “jam session” inviting the community, but it fizzled into a concert that went quite well for not practicing or having songs arranged.  We went home with a very old autoharp (her grandma had played and used it as a missionary overseas) and a dulcimer missing a string, both to tune and repair.  Our second opportunity was the Roy Purvis jam at his home – a tradition for years but health problems has made this harder for him.  This too was great fun, two dulcimers at times, the Pastor on guitar, and John switching around other instruments.  Kind of a “down home” back porch (but inside), sing-along with the gang.

Easter Sunday we took a guitar and hammer dulcimer to the camp lodge on the lake for Sunrise Service.  The weather did not allow the service to be outdoors, so we could bring some music inside for the service.  The SOWER volunteers (12 total) gathered for a wonderful ham and potluck dinner in the early afternoon making for a memorable Easter.  Then, our last Sunday, a SOWER couple living to the west of Macon, MS, made arrangements with their church for special music at the morning service and a concert for their evening service.  We packed up lots of instruments, attended the morning service, had lunch provided by our new friends and another SOWER couple, toured their “farm” including the goats, had a light supper, and were blessed with a good crowd for the concert (followed by snacks and cookies and lots of conversation of course).  It was a very full day, but the Lord was with us and it felt good to share our music ministry here and throughout the month.  

French Camp has the Rainwater Observatory and Planetarium with a first-Friday viewing open to the public.  We went, learned a lot, and were able to see the moon with lots of detail through their telescope as well as clearly seeing the constellations in the sky.  This is one of the few places in Mississippi without “light pollution” for good viewing.  We shared a few loaves of fresh, hot bread (as well as the wonderful aroma of bread and cookies every day) as we gathered in the Welcome Center for our morning devotions and breaks.  We didn’t use much for groceries, enjoying the wonderful prepared lunch at the dining hall and even enjoyed our “Tornado Party” complete with chicken and biscuits, snacks, and ice cream when we took shelter from a possibly damaging storm system.  There was also an appreciation breakfast on one of our last mornings – no we didn’t lose any weight here!

In the first week Connie was able to help fold and stuff letters, stick labels to the envelopes, and tape them to individual boxes of “fresh” bread that go out right before Easter – 3000 of them!  (A batch of bread here is 170 loaves.)  The last two weeks were painting doors in one of the dorm houseparent apartments and trimming out another staff apartment that was totally repainted (with two other ladies trimming and rolling the walls).  She also volunteered serving lunch to the students, staff, and volunteers which was lots of fun – the students were very polite and a few could be coaxed to interact a bit, and there were some staff that remarked “You’re the one with the music, it was great!”  French Camp has a fall festival where many crafts are sold or auctioned and they receive donations throughout the year of quilt fabrics, craft projects, and this month lots of yarn.  Connie sorted out what was left after many others took what they wanted; she kept a baby blanket that had been started, matched the crochet hook size, and is now working on finishing it up for them. 

John’s first day was helping out at one of the dorms undergoing a covered porch make-over; cutting, sanding, and kerfing tongue and groove boards while another SOWER installed them in the ceiling.  After that John was paired with a different SOWER volunteer – their task was to renovate the bathroom at “413” down the main road a bit which will eventually be a staff house.  As with all renovations, this task grew as the floor joists were replaced and leveled, new subfloor laid, plumbing redone and new shower, tub, and fixtures installed.  There were a few “oops” moments and lots of crawl space work.

We had a very busy month with 126 volunteer hours and lots of other events.  Although we traveled again at the end of the month, we will leave that adventure for our next update! 

The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.  All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you.  They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.  Psalm 145:9-12 NIV

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

John and Connie Nicholas, Salty Strings Music Ministry

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 –SOWER Project, Chapel Hill Tennessee (south of Franklin)
  • June – Tentative Little Galilee Christian Camp, Clinton, Illinois
  • July, August – Unknown, Illinois and Wisconsin

The Salt Shaker – March 2022

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.  2 Timothy 2:15 ESV

Praises – Christian Coffeehouse music; wonderful group of people to volunteer with and a great place to be; good to be back at work in SOWER ministry

Prayers – Project decision for May and travel plans; Connie’s health; music opportunities

Hello to our family, friends, and followers:

Our last night in Florida we received a blessing, being invited for a fantastic dinner that included this wonderful layered salad along with great conversation and no dirty dishes for us.  The next morning we got hooked up, had a wonderful prayer circle and great guides to get out of our lot.  We had lunch plans to meet a couple we previously volunteered with in northern Wisconsin a few years back.  After a several hour lunch in Jasper Florida we continued to Cordele Georgia Walmart for our overnight.  We were slanted a bit more than usual and had to be careful not to fall into the shower on our trips to the bathroom!  We had a shorter drive the next morning to Conyers Georgia, slightly east of Atlanta.  It was a bit stressful and scary getting around the southeast part of Atlanta but there was a warm welcome waiting and beautiful, flat, easy to park spaces.  After minimal setting up we headed out for a late lunch.   

We always hook up our water line with a reducer (regulates the water pressure for the trailer lines), but after our first showers that were more like heavy drizzle, the reducer was removed leaving us with wonderful water pressure.  Monday morning we started “work” and by the end of our second day we were both using John’s vibrating massage chair – boy were we out of shape!

Later in the month we added water to our holding tank for the three nights that were below freezing.  We were fine for water using our pump; however, John was abruptly woken up at 10:30 the second night to switch the LP tanks for the furnace to work (it was 62 in the trailer).  In all our years on the road, there was only once that the LP ran out in the day.

Our drive to church was a bit long, but after visiting the first week we knew it was for us.  We landed at a Reformed Baptist church that was very friendly, had good meaningful songs/hymns with instruments, lots of young families, of moderate size, and communion every Sunday (actually quite a bit like our home church in Lane Illinois, perhaps that is why we felt at home).   A deacon brought the first message, then a missionary from Papua New Guinea, and we finally heard the teaching pastor the last two weeks.  The third Sunday we were invited to a member’s home for chili lunch – the food and fellowship were great blessings to us.  We enjoyed a lovely ride on back country roads with beautiful homes and lakes to Aldi’s for groceries and Publix for fried chicken and ice cream to end this beautiful Sunday.

Connie started with the other ladies in front of the Administration Building to do a landscape makeover before their open house.  There were two mornings of pulling weeds, moving thick ground cover, then digging holes for the various kinds of plants.  Twice the ladies cleaned the lodges for incoming guests, Connie specialized in sanitizing the top bunk mattresses.  Up the ladder, wipe, move ladder, wipe; move to next bunk, repeat; minimum of 32 each time that left the rib cage a bit sore from leaning over the bunk railings.  There was also some cleaning, most memorable one of the boys’ lodge rooms with crushed cereal all over the carpeted floor.  She helped clean the cold air return ducts and bathroom fans, wiped down and tightened a few bolts on the bunks, checked smoke detector batteries, pulled mattresses that the ladies felt needed to be replaced (in all the buildings so staff could determine numbers), washed dining room windows, and helped deep-clean both lodge kitchens.  Our last volunteer day they sorted the lost and found items, washing some, keeping towels and some toiletries for those who forgot to bring them, and we took the 6 large trash bags to Goodwill on one of our shopping trips.

Connie spent most of the month recovering from her bladder infection and was feeling much better by mid-month.  She has had an abscess at the top of her right arm for years that bothers occasionally, but the vent cleaning and window washing made it really sore.  We don’t know what made it get larger but by the end of the month there was a lot of pain.  We will have that checked out once we get to Mississippi.  Connie was able to finish a second plarn bedroom floor runner “carpet” for John’s side of the bed, right before the really cold spell, and used her sewing machine to get the curtains in the bedroom and hallway remade and shortened.  They are much nicer now and she still had time to make some homemade noodles for one evening meal.

John made contact with Awake Coffeehouse, old town Conyers, and we met with the owner and were scheduled for music from noon-4pm on the 19th.  This was great fun for us, acoustic setting, bringing back memories of our early days at the Bagel Shop.  Conversation and whirring machines make it easy to hide mistakes.  Our fellow SOWER couples enjoyed listening and helped us get instruments packed up and unloaded back at home.  We were both exhausted and in bed by 8 pm!  John was able to do a few things towards the end of the month in our “studio” – blending tracks, re-recording, and equalizing; all slowly developing skills.

Throughout the month we watched the trees and flowers start to bloom, saw many cardinals, and lots of little birds passing through.  The pine trees let us know spring was here with yellow pollen dust covering everything.  We planned a day outing for clothes shopping; John needed some new work pants from Tractor Supply and new shirts from Goodwill.  Our last work day we were finally able to have a fire circle, no favoritism with smoke drifting to all, and ended the evening with a full prayer circle as the first couple left the next morning.  Connie saw the first robins of this year (March 26) and the next morning there was a pair of Canada geese on the pond behind our trailer.

All the men worked together the first day removing plastic “windows” from the tabernacle for summer use.  They then tackled a rebuild of the volleyball court including pulling weeds from the sand, bringing home a bunch of wild onions (not very tasty), setting boundaries with a transit level, digging out for the 16’ 6×6 timber edges, moving each timber and staking then adding 2nd layer, finally moving and leveling the sand which became very heavy when it rained the last 45 minutes of the day.  Indoor work was at a resident house renovation: drywall removal, framing, rebuilding pocket door frame and installing hardware for the door, putting up drywall sheets (walls and ceilings), learning new ways of patching, and some work mudding.  John said any volunteer work is fun when you can start playing in the sand and end playing in the mud!

We were able to provide two devotions and a special song to close out this work project.  Connie enjoyed the weekly game night.  John took a Friday morning to himself with a newspaper, as expensive now as the Sunday papers used to be, and breakfast at IHOP.  He also did a few hilly bike rides and lots of long walks up and down the gravel roads of the camp.  Connie joined the last few days of our stay, finally feeling a bit better and having more energy.

We actually planned two outings for the last week of our stay.  About 30 minutes to the north is Stone Mountain where we wanted to see the Carillon and hike the mountain.  We heard it was a mile hike up but did not know it is more like a climb than a hike!  After stopping three times for a break (Connie) we made it to the top, purchased some lemonade and a salted pretzel, then started the trek down with a few zig-zag spots to keep from sliding.  From there we drove, parked, and walked a bit to see the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial Carving, completed in 1972 (much better than the photo shows).  We journeyed on, parked, and walked again to the Carillon for the supposed 4pm taped concert.  Although we didn’t hear anything it was very interesting, even though our strength was dwindling.  The weather was perfect.

We took a day of rest for our tired feet, legs, ankles, and knees then traveled about 20 minutes southeast to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, a community of Trappist Monks.  It was quite interesting to learn about monks over the years and see how they lived.  We went from there to Aldi’s to stock up with non-perishable food for next month (nearest in Mississippi is 90 miles), then back to the trailer to start packing up.

We had several rainy work days each week, with temperatures ranging from 28 to 80.  There was one day that Connie wore socks!  It was great being in a rural woodsy setting, enjoying the cool fresh evening air, and hearing the frogs and cicadas as you fell asleep.  Of course, you would wake up cold, get up and shut the windows, and have the heat turn on by morning.  It’s a wonderful life!!  March 31 found us waking to a text message from our daughter in LaCrosse Wisconsin claiming a missed April Fool’s joke with snow on the ground.  We know that God doesn’t make mistakes or have poor timing, that snowfall was for us to enjoy in picture form.

However, we possess this precious treasure, the divine Light of the Gospel, in frail human vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves.  2 Corinthians 4:7 AMPC (Amplified Bible, Classic Edition)

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

  • April 4-28 – French Camp, Mississippi for Volunteer SOWER Project
  • May – Tentative, SOWER Project south of Nashville Tennessee
  • June, July, August – Unknown, traveling to Illinois and Wisconsin

The Salt Shaker – February 2022

He [the Lord] fills the sky with clouds and sends rain to the earth, so that the hills will be green with grass.  He provides food for cattle and for the young ravens, when they cry out.  The Lord doesn’t care about the strength of horses or powerful armies.  The Lord is pleased only with those who worship Him and trust His love.  Psalm 147:8-11 CEV (Contemporary English Version)

Praises – Wonderful time with friends in Florida; God providing health for our concert; wonderful encouragement received this month.

Prayers – Minor health issues for us; trailer parts; ministry opportunities in Georgia and Mississippi; future projects and travel plans

Hello to our followers, friends, and family:

We didn’t travel or move this month but remained parked on our lot at River Palm RV Resort north of Thonotosassa, Florida.  Our weather varied from sweatshirts to shorts with a few rainy days mixed in.  We had a lot going on this month, as you will see!

There were many excursions and a holiday or two.  February 1st found us with a SOWER couple we worked with in the past heading to Ybor City (south Tampa area) to dine at a Cuban restaurant.  “Columbia” has been a landmark for 115 years, expanding over time to a full city block.  As explained by our tour guide, one of the owners, as times changed and the population grew so did the restaurant.  They started with a saloon, then each expansion took on a new flavor including different themes, dinner shows, and their veranda room addition had the first sliding glass cover.

We celebrated Valentine’s Day twice, having a wonderful meal the Friday before at Fellowship 301 Church followed by a concert from The Puffer’s whom we had the opportunity to see a few years ago at a SOWER reunion.  On Valentine’s Day we headed north for some shopping and a stop at Dairy Queen for blizzards. 

John’s birthday followed a few days later with an outing to see the manatee’s and a stop at Cold Stone Creamery.  The Manatee Viewing Station has expanded since our last visit and we meandered 2.1 miles from the overflow parking lot, through the park, and the 900’ tidal walk inlet from Tampa Bay.  Connie was a bit disappointed with only a few pelicans resting quite a way out on the corrugated iron, but the fish, sting rays, sharks, and lots of manatees were wonderful to watch in the warm inlet waters.  Mangrove trees anchor the shores providing erosion control, filter pollution, and habitat for many species.  We were very hungry, hot, tired, and thirsty when we arrived at a McDonald’s for lunch followed by a bit of shopping, then our stop at Cold Stone for John’s treat.  His “gotta have it” and her “love it” size treats were much more than we needed to have!

We prepared and planned for our February 6 concert here, using our new sound equipment for the first time.  We had everything set up and ready to go in about an hour, not bad for never doing it before.  Our equipment worked well, the sound quality and balance were great, and we were able to bless many listeners.  Our second concert was on the 25th in Leesburg, about 1 ½ hours north.  We used their sound equipment except for our wireless microphones, and we had a great time, with a blessing of cookies for our trip home and the next few days.  We felt under attack for this concert.  It was rescheduled from January due to bad weather, Connie developed a bladder infection that morning, and John was still battling sinus drainage congestion, throat tickles, and coughing.  We were pretty beat up and even considered cancelling, but instead went to prayer and invited a few friends to pray for us as well.  God was gracious and we both had an 8-hour plus window of great health for our drive and testimony.

John was able to repair our loft ceiling fan and change out the bathroom fan (so Connie can use the remote instead of getting her stool to reach the controls).  This was also a great opportunity to clean and organize our loft storage; it’s been a year since “moving in” to this trailer and time for some things to go!  We also took photos for CraigsList ads and flyers to post for some of the things we need to get rid of before moving on – great idea but no takers.

Our almost daily walks and bicycle rides around the park continued, and we were able to try to swim once more this month but the water was too cloudy to see the wall to stop.  (The pool was closed a lot from cooler days and water quality issues.)  Connie continued to play cards and was able to attend one water exercise class!  There were even a few days she stayed in her pajamas all day.  Her stained glass crosses and hearts were completed along with learning a few new tips and techniques.

We were able to hear another music group perform one Sunday evening after ice cream.  This trio consisted of excellent musicians on string bass, guitar, and banjo with great folk voices.  Connie, needing something to do, dismantled the plarn chair seat (last month’s failure) and a lady across the table asked if she made floppy hats with plarn and hinted that the group’s leader was looking for one.  Our modern technology is truly amazing, Connie found a pattern and worked hard to get the hat done in a few days for its new owner.  Although a bit large, the recipient knew just what to do to make it fit and was overjoyed to receive it.

Connie made some more homemade eggnog for John’s enjoyment, deviled eggs (for a picnic outing), split pea soup and cornbread (for Super Bowl fellowship), and we enjoyed other food treats including Cincinnati Chili, and “New York” Chinese Buffet (excellent, but just a typical huge buffet).  Our picnic outing was a meeting at the park in Dundee, Florida with other couples that wintered at Capernaum Ministries for several years.  We met some of these couples when we were there as volunteers a few years ago.  It was a very windy day so we left after lunch and re-gathered at the nearby home of one of the couples for a few hours of fellowship, songs, and enjoyed “Magic with a Message” which was great.  “Magic Bob” was a missionary engineer for many years and picked up some magic tricks along the way to share Bible truths with youth and adults alike.

After church our last Sunday morning we had a quick lunch and traveled to the Holiness Camp Ground Church in Lakeland, Florida to hear God’s Bible School and College choir.  We met our violin friend (her children attended this College and she invited us to come, hear, and be blessed, which we were).  What a great group of musically talented, grounded in faith, young people.  It was very hot and the church was not air conditioned yet they wore their suit coats and long dresses, singing with joy.  One song had a violin, viola, clarinet, trumpet, and trombone ensemble playing along.  Our friend treated us again to a wonderful supper with a cheese tray, pigs-in-a-blanket, and peanut butter pie (which we took with us, we were too full, and it was fantastic the next day).  We played a few songs together, pet the goats, Connie avoided the chickens, and left with more free-range eggs!  God is so good.

We were very blessed our last few days here to participate in Fellowship 301 Church revival meetings.  Engage Conference “Emerge 2022” started our last Sunday morning and we were able to attend again Monday and Tuesday nights (including fellowship meals of roast beef and lasagna).  We heard messages from church-plant missionaries to Hungary (worship creates unlikely missionaries) and New York City (missions motivation).  Presentations from missionaries included Guatemala (Kekchi self-sustaining ministries/pastor training), Tampa Muslim Outreach (God is bringing “the nations” to our front doors), and HELP Ministries (a quartet of men from the Philippines-Tagalog, Togo-French, and Kenya-Swahili sharing their ministries and singing “I have Decided to Follow Jesus” in their native languages).  What wonderful ministry encouragement we had hearing their stories and testimonies as they serve Christ here and throughout the world.

Spring is coming in Florida.  We saw several bare trees blossoming with large yellow flowers all over the tops (never got close enough for a picture but likely tabebuia (tah-beh-BOO-ya) trees from research) and started seeing signs of the azaleas beginning to bloom.  As we pack up to move north a bit, we know spring will be following us!

Therefore, if you were raised with Christ, look for the things that are above where Christ is sitting at God’s right side.  Think about the things above and not things on earth.  Colossians 3:1-2 CEB (Common English Bible)

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 909-336-8910
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

  • March 5-31 – Volunteer SOWER Project, Conyers, Georgia (east of Atlanta)
  • April 1-28 – Travel to French Camp, Mississippi for Volunteer SOWER Project
  • May-June – Unknown, traveling to Illinois and Wisconsin