The Salt Shaker

News

The Salt Shaker – November 2018

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy!  Psalm 126:3

 Praise the Lord.  Give thanks to the Lord,for He is good; His love endures forever.  Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord or fully declare His praise?  Psalm 106:1-2

01 Sunset NCPraises – Less back strain the last few months; indoor work a blessing; quiet country setting by ourselves here in Florida; weather not hot and humid!

Prayers – Good weather for outdoor work; back to stay healthy; music opportunities in January/February.

Greetings to our family, followers, and friends:

November, a month of Thanksgiving, which is getting harder and harder to remember amidst all the Christmas music, decorations, and advertising!  However, we were surrounded by thankful people!  Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina and the surrounding area received damage from Hurricane “Flo” (Florence, September 2018).  There were still brush piles in areas, lots of tarped roof spots (rich and poor homes), and remodeling/furniture debris in front yards.  But it was the emotional damage that caught us by surprise.  Everyone was either directly affected or knew someone who was – evacuations, upset in routines, jobs – basically fear of the unknown or of change.  Strangely (or perhaps not, knowing God is directing our steps) we know what evacuation is like, and packing/unpacking from moving every month or so going to someplace “new” as well.  There is still some anxiety, more so for Connie, as we travel around the country and we choose to do this!

02 20181120_172515After a Walmart overnight stay, we arrived on Thursday, October 25, shortly after noon in Lake Waccamaw, NC.  This allowed us to get everything connected and set up without rushing before dark.  We were parked behind a huge arena across the road from a tobacco factory (interesting smells some days), with stables and horses as part of our landscape.  Friday, we traveled into South Carolina visiting North Myrtle Beach (Aldi’s grocery shopping) and down the “strip” (17 miles in 45 minutes and what seemed like hundreds of mini golf places) to Myrtle Beach where we met with the owner of Fresh Brewed Coffeehouse to finalize our concert.  It was cold and rainy most of the day, getting wet feet from all the puddles, and certainly not enjoying the beaches!  We made several stops, getting new wipers and a gas cap for the van while in “town.”

On returning we found a note on our step that asked us to meet with Pastor Joe from the project, who invited us to share some songs and testimony in the Sunday morning chapel service.  God placed us here as much for music ministry as for volunteer labor!  This was the first of 3 chapel services along with two songs at a cottage Rotary dinner, one song at a youth promotion dinner, two songs for the “State of the Homes” breakfast meeting involving area-wide staff, and two songs for their Thanksgiving staff/family dinner.  We were able to practice with their praise team with separate practices for the singing girls and the drum/piano guys.  They also have a wonderful pipe organ in the chapel which Connie was able to play one Sunday.  There was only about an hour that she was able to practice for fun with John accompanying on the mandolin, which sounded beautiful together.  Organ and horses and horse shows, oh my!  God willing we will be back here again.

Each cottage here (provides housing for up to ten youth) is sponsored by an area civic club, Rotary, Civitan, Lions, etc.  Most of the youth have been in 30-40+ foster homes before coming to the Boys and Girls Homes!  Added to that was the recent evacuation to the North Carolina mountains, a totally different setting for most of the youth.  Lots of healing needed for staff as well as youth, and God used our music and testimony throughout this month.

We had one other SOWER couple with us.  They had been full-time and with SOWERs for 15 years, now returning for a project after a 3-year medical leave.   The guys spent all their time at “Roxy’s” a weight room/fitness center for the campus that was damaged when the rubber roof came off that end of the main building.  Acoustic ceiling tiles were glued to cement block walls and painted after the old tile was scraped off.  New trim and ceiling tiles were added as needed, and the floor was “stripped” ready for new wax before we left.

The ladies worked at the “Country Store” a thrift store located in an old church building that had several attachments.  The roof here was damaged as well and we were allowed to finish up the “holiday room” which needed the new drywall primed and painted.  We ladies came up with the trim solution (there was an uneven gap between the drywall and floor trim of 3-4 inches) and talked the guys into spending an afternoon installing the stained quarter round and trim.  The woodwork was wiped off as well.  Plastic had been put in to help with the leaks leaving quite a bit of dirt/black mold on the beautiful old wood.  Along with this we also dusted, vacuumed the carpeted floor wall-to-wall, tried to arrange the book shelves, straightened the linen area, and did some creative marketing with glassware, shoes, and jewelry.  This store is an emotional support ministry as well.  Everyone gets lots of “sweeties, babes, and honey” as they shop and check out, and this serves as a meeting place for locals to check up on each other and share stories about their time as kids at the church.

Of course, we had lots of fellowship time, enjoying some meals together, traveling to Wilmington, NC which has recovered well from the hurricane, and several trips together to the nearest Walmart for supplies.  While in Wilmington (a cool, blustery day with threatening rain) we walked around the old downtown, along the bay, were chased out of “Coast Guard only” parking, and observed the USS North Carolina battleship across the bay.  Then we went to Sam’s Club, enjoyed some ice cream, and went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond where they still have Table-Mate trays, which we purchased and modified for our new music stand.  There are some beautiful wood piers along the coastal areas but the weather and timing didn’t permit us to get to any of the beach/pier areas.  There were two horse shows over the weekends, one English and one Western, providing us some camping company and entertainment as well.

We made one more trip to Myrtle Beach, providing two hours of music at Fresh Brewed Coffeehouse which is in an old part of town about a block from the beach.  We set up in the corner of the front window rather than in their concert area in the back to attract customers.  Although there were few in attendance, the songs we played definitely connected with many as they sang along.  We had one young lady ask for us to do “Simple Gifts” again and she sang along with the words her grandmother had taught her.

13 Ctry Store PlaqueOur last Sunday we attended Bridge Church (a Presbyterian church in a mall) about 45 minutes away to support the youth from the Homes who were part of the Glee Club singers from the on-campus school.  We were at the first service where they did well, but they were much more relaxed and enjoying their singing after the break between services.  We enjoyed lunch with Pastor Joe and his family before returning home.  We decided to celebrate Thanksgiving on Wednesday by going out for lunch and stayed home alone, packing up the trailer for travel, on Thanksgiving Day eating leftover spaghetti!  Much better than our previous three years of being on the road on the holiday and spending Black Friday, starting on Thursday night, at Walmart or a truck stop.  We were up early Friday morning, pulling in the slides, and on the road by 7:45 am for a very long day of travel to north central Florida, arriving about 5:15 pm November 23.  And so another new volunteer project and ministry begins!

Christmas is coming ~ here’s the real reason to celebrate:

A sign will be given, a virgin will conceive, a human baby bearing undiminished Deity.  The glory of the nations, a light for all to see; and hope for all who will embrace His warm reality.
Immanuel, our God is with us; and if God is with us, who could stand against us?  Our God is with us, Immanuel.
(Immanuel, Michael Card © 1986)

We’re back in the south so all y’all have a great Christmas!
Thanks for being a part of our travels!

John and Connie Nicholas, Salty Strings Music Ministry

Contact Information:
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

14 20181121_174114MAIL ADDRESS:
John & Connie Nicholas ~ Salty Strings Music Ministry,
255 N Sperry St, Bushnell, IL  61422

TRAVEL PLANS AND UPCOMING LOCATIONS

  • December – Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, Live Oak, Florida; north central
  • January/February – Camp Horizon, Leesburg, Florida; north central
  • March – Tentative – Acadian Baptist Center, Eunice, Louisiana; south central
  • April – Tentative – Northeast Texas/Northwest Arkansas
News

The Salt Shaker – October 2018

You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you, making you spill your coffee everywhere.  Why did you spill the coffee?”   (answer at the end)

 Prayers – “Listening” for God’s direction; being flexible; confidence in music ministry; music contacts and recording.

 Praises – Crossing the Eastern Continental Divide, van made the trip again; unpredictable beautiful fall weather; reconnecting with church family; wifi at the trailer sites this year at Potomac Park, what a blessing!

Greetings to all our friends, family, and followers:

02 Coos HomeThis October project begins our fourth year of ministry!  It is amazing that we are still re-arranging our possessions within our ~300 sq ft of trailer.  From October 2015 to September 2018 we have volunteered at 21 different Christian ministries.  30 months have been as SOWER volunteers, 4 months volunteering at Little Galilee Christian Camp, and 2 months of “time off” with lots of music ministry.  There is no way to quantify the spiritual impact – lots of volunteer hours of work and help as expected, but also many more hours in listening and encouraging the staff of these ministries as well as “Salty Strings” ministry of sharing and building up others through music and testimony of God working in and through us.

Our arrival at Potomac Park, Falling Waters, West Virginia, brought relief from the rain for them.  The ground was a bit soggy from their very wet year making parking a bit difficult (we had to have the van pulled out of the mud last year) but we didn’t get stuck this time.  Although above average for temperatures we had 2 weeks of sunny weather, the longest stretch of sunshine they had all summer!  We were able to vary our hours and add numerous extra volunteer hours to provide helping hands in the kitchen and complete some “to do” things around the camp.

John started in the first Saturday we were there helping them close down the pool area and cover the pool.  That evening found both of us helping in the kitchen and serving guests.  John’s primary task was to close in an area of the Activity Center to be used as a kitchen for the lessees’ activities.  (There are numerous small homes on the property that create the lessee community.)  The skills he learned last month in installing ceiling tile grid were used and he learned a lot in building wall sections.  As is typical in building, plans change, so the framed and installed window was removed to create a permanent pass through with a garage-type lowering door in the future.  There was putting wood framing to the steel I-beam to attach the new walls, moving lights and light switch, changing ceiling tile grid and tiles, framing walls with chair rail, temporarily hanging the door, putting up T111 siding for the outer walls, caulking, painting, and putting up the baseboard in slightly over three weeks!  The lessees were so excited to see the progress, even though there are many more hours needed to install cabinets and new appliances as well as plumbing, drains, and electrical plugs.  He also spent an extra volunteer day helping to remove shingles from an old cottage now used for storage.

Connie spent most of her time in the kitchen helping with prep work, setting up dining areas, and serving food the first week.  Then came the “uplift” to Mason dining hall.  The paint appeared for the posts which led to the decision to add a bit more color down the center and window cement block valances even.  More paint was required for the second coat and the director decided to go a shade darker to match the existing curtains better.  Connie was able to squeeze two more coats out of the next gallon of paint making everything blend together quite well.  John had the task of spray painting the old vents and was coaxed to put them back on!

Connie received a coffee cup from a lady’s retreat with the inspirational sayings inside and used in this newsletter.  Although the coffee cup was returned to them (we have too many already), the messages will be kept as a reminder of what our lives are to be.

12 Jirani CoffeehouseJohn had arranged for a coffeehouse gig on a Saturday night “down the hill” in Manassas, Va.  We spent the afternoon with our son and daughter-in-law and her family enjoying a Greek dinner and walk around downtown Manassas before ending at Jirani (Swahili for neighbor) Coffeehouse.  While walking around we stopped outside a new “game” store specializing in large versions of games (Yahtzee, checkers, etc.).  A father and daughter from our group paired off in a very intense Jenga competition with the much larger 2×4 blocks.  There was quite a crowd watching as she used a chair to reach the top blocks, eventually beating her dad who toppled the tower with a loud crash!  It was so good to see family interaction and what a witness to those who took the time to watch.

 

Sunday morning found us on the highways into D.C. where we drove past the famous huge cathedral on our way to the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land.  The Franciscan monks maintain special sites in Israel and have built replicas bringing “the Holy Land” to the U.S.  What a fantastic, ornate, and wonderful place to be, even though their wood pew benches were out for refinishing.  We completed the tour and walked around the grounds before heading back to Manassas and packing up for “home.”

Our last week was full of music!

On Thursday we provided the music for the quarterly hymn sing at Potomac Park – lots of good old hymns as well as some praise choruses and a few of our songs – followed by a delicious lunch.

On Sunday we provided two church services for Rehoboth United Methodist Church in Williamsburg, Maryland.  This is the church we attended last year and became attached to many through Sunday School and Wednesday Bible Study.  The Pastor and music leader were visiting other churches to gather ideas for their new building.  Both services went well and we were blessed as we shared our music, testimony, and encouraged them with our theme of “Life Changes, God Doesn’t.”

On Monday we joined some of the lessee musicians for a “Talent Night.”  We did two songs and were asked by the camp director to do “one more,” his favorite (‘I Believe in Jesus’ written by John to an Irish pub song) which we managed without music.  After the talent came a half hour of praise and worship in which John joined the praise team and Connie played “sound tech” for the groups.

The other big event for the month was Connie’s 64th birthday.  Her/our new bed was delivered during lunch after the hymn sing (supposed to come in the evening) and we watched the “bed in a box” being unrolled and decompressing, amazingly turning into a comfortable night’s sleep.  Different, but no more “boinging” coils as you roll over in the night!  We stretched her Birthday celebration for several weeks; delivered home-cooked meal from our son, Golden Corral lunch, Cold Stone ice cream, and present received!!

Tuesday (October 23) found us packing up, forgetting our table-mate converted music stand, and saying our good-byes.  We were so blessed to be a part of this camp again this year.  We received a thank you bag of travel goodies (donuts, chips, cookies, etc.) as well as a whole batch of peanut butter fudge from our lessee neighbor, eggs and hamburger, day-old donated food, and leftovers from the kitchen – no worries about “what to eat” as we traveled and set up camp again!  Day one of travel we noticed the outside shower door swinging back and forth right before making a gas stop.  Connie checked the latch, which was partially broken, and taped the door shut so it wouldn’t rattle open again (we have never used this anyway).  After getting gas Connie locked the keys inside the van; thankfully the windows were down enough for John to reach in with our stabilizer bar tool and hit the unlock button.  Day two of travel as Connie pumped gas and didn’t put back the gas cap or close the lid (but John didn’t notice as he got in to drive) we lost our gas cap!  We arrived, looked at each other, and decided we are getting very forgetful or perfecting our “bad news” reaction skills!!  But, we will continue to “run the race” with our eyes “fixed on the prize before us” (2 Timothy 4:7-8; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Hebrews 12:1-2) using all of our forgetfulness, travels, and circumstances as a witness to God’s faithfulness and for His glory!

11 Ladies RetreatAnswer: “You spilled the coffee because there was coffee in your cup.  Had there been tea in the cup, you would have spilled tea.  The point is whatever is inside the cup is what will spill out.  Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you (which will happen), whatever is inside you will come out.  It’s easy to fake it until you get rattled.  So, we have to ask ourselves, ‘What’s in my cup?’  When life gets tough, what spills out?  Joy, gratefulness, peace and humility?  Or does anger, bitterness, harsh words, and reactions come out?  You choose!
Today (and everyday) lets work towards filling our cup with gratitude, forgiveness, joy, words of affirmation, kindness, gentleness, and love for others.”

Thanks for being a part of our adventures!

John and Connie Nicholas, Salty Strings Music Ministry

Contact Information:
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

MAIL ADDRESS:       John & Connie Nicholas ~ Salty Strings Music Ministry,
255 N Sperry St, Bushnell, IL  61422

TRAVEL PLANS AND UPCOMING LOCATIONS

  • November – Boys and Girls Home of NC, Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina; southeast
  • December – Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, Live Oak, Florida; north central
  • January/February – Camp Horizon, Leesburg, Florida; north central
  • March – Tentative – Acadian Baptist Center, Eunice, Louisiana; south central
  • April – Tentative – Northeast Texas
News

The Salt Shaker – September 2018

Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.     (James 1:2-4)

Prayers – Ministry/project locations for spring; being mindful of God’s plan for us; inspiration for writing timely updates and avoiding the “trials”

 Praises –Bee/wasp stings didn’t hinder work or music; van over 180,000 miles and still running good; internet wifi at our trailer, what a blessing!

Greetings to all our family, friends, and followers:

What a wonderful greeting we received on our arrival at Michindoh Ministries outside of Hillsdale, Michigan.  There were several couples we had worked with before already there with warm hugs, just what you need after a long drive.  We passed 180,000 miles on our odometer and are so thankful God provided such good transportation within our “low” vehicle budget three years ago when we started this adventure.  We were at this camp for 3 days last year for the annual SOWER Reunion but will spend almost 5 weeks here this year as we provide volunteer labor and attend the reunion again.

Our work was accomplished with the help of 7-8 other couples (3 of them new to SOWERs) making for very busy and lively weeks.  The men broke into 2-4 groups with John working mostly on removing and rebuilding landscape blocks, digging and installing wood handrail, and on a rainy day working with ceiling tiles and track in the kitchen.  Lots of bending, lifting, hauling, sweat, dirt, and laundry!  It remained unseasonably hot and humid here also.  Once the landscaping was complete the guys tackled cleaning up the RV area including trimming, power washing, weeding the road gutters and parking areas.  Twice John received bee/wasp stings in the same general area of his hand/fingers while picking up brush.  (The first evening we rode our bikes to the dining hall for supper he got a sting on his shoulder as well.)  Stings make John swell up, itch, and burn so it was a long month but thankfully none of the side effects caused him to miss work or music engagements.

The ladies remained in a larger group of 6 or 7 working on painting a cabin and two adjoining buildings used for education.  By the end of our volunteer hours we had found ways of staying out of each other’s way!  We had two days where it was raining so we washed chairs in both dining areas.

Michindoh (MICHigan INdiana OHio) is a camp/conference center with several areas of ministry around a small lake.  The weather did cool off a few nights and there were a few thunder storms; the geese have started moving through so fall is approaching.  A couple of trees turned a vibrant orange and they have abundant black squirrels (all too fast for the camera) and chipmunks as well as gray squirrels and ducks and turtles in the lake.  We woke one morning with mist/fog over the lake as us ladies went to work.  The camp had its start around 1910 and the “cross rock” was found at that time, mounted, and placed in front of the main dining/meeting building.  The red cross rock color is solid and goes through the whole rock, both directions, very unusual.07 Cross Rock

We searched online for area churches and decided to try the “interactive” late service at Hillsdale First United Methodist Church.  On arrival we were surprised to see a porta-potty outside the front door and found they had been under construction since April.  Only the sanctuary and a small part of the kitchen were accessible since an elevator was being installed, causing bathrooms, electrical, and plumbing to be shut down.  Their pastor had also retired in June so there was a “new” pastor with no office and no sense of what normal is.  It is a beautiful old church with wonderful colors inside, great music staff (of course the organ has not been used because the pipes have been sealed off due to construction), and an outreach service to the community held across the street at the Elks Club because their kitchen/water are not working.08 Hillsdale UMC

Having such wonderful internet connection really helped us in making contacts for future music ministry.  We played at “Rough Draft” coffeehouse in Hillsdale, near the college campus and had a wonderful time with some of our 60-70’s songs as well as original and Christian music.  Our audience was great too!  We were able to provide the music for the UMC outreach breakfast service at the Elks Club, a bit different than our usual setting, but a wonderful way to be a blessing to those in the community who don’t usually get to hear live dulcimer music.  Our last music event was a concert for the SOWER Reunion where, much to our surprise, they took up a love gift collection for us and our ministry.  God certainly does bless us as we share our talents with others!

Some of our recreation was a 16-mile bike ride with an ice cream stop (at the Udder Side) and another 20-mile ride, both with new SOWER friends.   We also took a trip to Elderly Instruments in Lansing, MI where we purchased several of our instruments 30 years ago.  We saved and looked at catalogs (before the web!) and made our wish list then.  Just a few things on our list this time, nothing was in stock, but we sold them our Balalaika which we haven’t used for years.  We met with Walter and Jamie Neuenschwander and their family (former youth and worship leaders at our home church in Illinois) for dinner, visited their church, got some groceries, and stopped in Jackson, MI where a Craigslist contact liked and purchased our extra autoharp; we know she will get a lot of pleasure from having it.  A long day full of memories and connections from the past (even saw our old Dodge Caravan).  The trailer will be a few pounds lighter now and we will have a bit more space.

11 No TrucksWe started packing up a day early to avoid some rain and hit the road again for another 2-day trip to West Virginia.  Good weather for driving with an overnight at a new Walmart with a separate area for RV overnight parking.  The signs said “no trucks” but we were surrounded with running engines.  We arrived at Potomac Park Retreat and Conference Center on Thursday, September 27 and are glad to be back to this area again.

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.      (James 1:12)

Thanks for being a part of our adventures!
John and Connie Nicholas, Salty Strings Music Ministry

Contact Information:
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

MAIL ADDRESS:       John & Connie Nicholas
Salty Strings Music Ministry
255 N Sperry St, Bushnell, IL  61422

TRAVEL PLANS AND UPCOMING LOCATIONS

  • November – Boys and Girls Home of NC, Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina; southeast
  • December – Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, Live Oak, Florida; north central
  • January/February – Camp Horizon, Leesburg, Florida; north central
  • March – Tentative – Acadian Baptist Center, Eunice, Louisiana; south central
  • April – Tentative – Northeast Texas
News

The Salt Shaker – August, 2018

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. . . .(Genesis 1:1, 31a)

If rain clouds come, or the cold winds blow, You’re the one who goes before me and in my heart, I know That this good day, it is a gift from you.  The world is turning in its place because You made it to.  I lift my voice and sing a song of praise – on this good day.
“This Good Day” Chorus by Fernando Ortega © 2000

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!    (Psalm 118:24)

Prayers – Financial decisions; van and safety while traveling over mountains 9/26-27

Praises – A bit of cooler weather this week; music opportunities; encouraging others in their journeys; God’s wonderful creation!

Greetings to all with our hope that this finds you well:

Another long update – a lot happened this month!  Our arrival at Lake Lundgren Bible Camp (northeast Wisconsin) on Thursday, July 26, found us parked with four other couples from another volunteer RV group.  Lake Lundgren is a small lake with beautiful hills, trees, lots of summer camp kids, and for the most part blue skies.  We thought we would be working alone but were quickly included in their devotions, work, game, and leisure plans.  Connie finished up the remaining window blind and hooked up our new printer.  It printed wonderful color pages allowing us to get out our update mailings for the previous 2 months.  Connie also joined the other ladies for a day out – 2 thrift stores, a quilt shop, an alpaca farm, and of course lunch out!

The first work day we helped pick up, vacuum, and organize the shop area.  The next few days Connie joined John and one other volunteer “planting” 4×4 treated lumber posts to be used for lights.  The first had been broken off by a snow plow, the rest were new holes (and trenches for the electric conduit) in their parking lot.  The camp rented a trencher but there were still lots of rocks to be moved out of the way in the bottom of the trenches.  Holes for the posts were dug by hand and some trenching was dug up again because of a kink in the conduit that wouldn’t allow wires to be pulled through.

The 2nd week Connie was pulled aside to sort and organize drawers of shop things.  You know how we all have a “junk drawer” where all the odds and ends go that we are sure we will need one day?  Although well-organized originally, sorting was needed to put like things together, decide what remains, toss what will never be used or is broken.  Screws and drill bits followed.  Once sorted (about 4 different types) the regular bits were sharpened as needed, sorted, and filed by size.  With a few extra hours Connie and the “Drill Doctor” finished before we left!

John continued work on the light poles, and painted the new light fixtures to match the existing ones.  Then the hard work began – fencing an orchard/garden area in lots of heat and humidity.  By this time there were 5 volunteers and usually one younger maintenance staff working together.  John was one of a team of 3 working on digging the holes and planting the posts, with the help of a gas auger that didn’t start very easy.  Two other volunteers ran chicken wire buried in a trench along the bottom of the posts, and one dug the trench.  John’s group ran into rock about 18” down, resorting to hand digging, chipping away and removing the rock.  Eventually they came into a “sandy” hole area giving them a break, then some with tree roots that had to be chopped through.  By the end of the second week all were tuckered out and fencing work would stop at noon.  The posts were all set by the official end of our project and John worked an extra 2 days with the others to see the fencing completed – 4’ chicken wire with 2 higher sections of larger wire to create an 8’ fence to deter deer and rabbits.  As a break from the fencing there was outside painting/staining/crawling under a deck at a staff house to get the support posts and trim, tearing down a “donated” piano for the metal/burn pile, adding a router channel for wiring for the light posts, restringing some shop fencing, and pounding in stakes as markers for the newly lighted parking lot.

Lake Lundgren Bible Camp is unique in all the camps we’ve been at.  Their “staff” is paid by funds or support that each family has solicited.  What a committed group of workers!  There were also lots of young families – two new babies joined the “family” during our time there.  We were able to join the kids for many meals.  Two of the favorite camp meals were the “black pot” picnic (outdoor eating with chili or stew in the pot over the fire) and “hot ice cream” for breakfast (really creamy, sweet, and smooth cream of wheat).

07 Picnic MusicOur music ministry was greatly blessed to have three opportunities to reach the community.  August brings the end of summer and thoughts of school, with it the annual church picnics.  Our 2nd Sunday (August 5) we played about 3 hours for the Faith Baptist Church picnic which included the Beecher community and people in their outreach ministry.  It was a very hot and humid day with rain threatening and we were thankful it was moved inside.  Fresh roasted sweet corn with jars of butter to dip into, pulled pork, potato and pasta salad, all the fixin’s, and of course wonderful deserts.  Saturday evening (August 11) found us playing for about 2 hours for the Northwoods Chapel annual pig roast picnic outside under a small tent.  It was in the evening with a great crowd and fantastic food again.  Our last Sunday (August 19) was a community concert hosted by Grace Lutheran Church.  We attended their morning service sharing a song for special music, and had a great group of people for the evening concert.  We are being blessed as we share our gifts with others, and are certainly seeing God at work in many lives as we talk with people afterwards.  We also hosted a jam session at the camp for the staff, summer workers, and fellow volunteers as several had asked about our music and indicated they would like to share their musical gifts as well.

 

On one of our days off we drove north to Marquette, Michigan (time change 1 hour ahead) for a 2-hour bicycle ride along the Lake Superior shoreline (a great trail) with a few stops for pictures, seeing the light house from a distance, and walking along the smooth rock shore.  The trip was combined with laundry (“Loads of Fun” laundromat), Culver’s for Wi-Fi, and grocery shopping.  It was a beautiful day where we saw our first “moose crossing” sign and “Da Yoopers Tourist Trap” (with free admission and free batrooms according to their signage).  The Upper Peninsula (UP – and those who live there – Yoopers) is a unique place to be!

Another trip was to Marinette, WI with Menominee, MI on the other side of the Menominee River.  We stopped at the visitor center getting a bike route map through the city, riding and making several stops along the way to walk on the beach, watch an eagle soar overhead, walk out to the lighthouse and up/down the steps, and Stephenson Island (splits the river, a natural staging area for logging operations of the original settlers).  Again, our usual grocery stops before returning home to a heavy downpour.

We took some time our last day at the camp to go hiking.  Connie loves waterfalls and Marinette County Wisconsin has more waterfalls than any other.  There were 12 waterfalls listed online within a 20-mile radius and we hiked 7 of them!  Signs of “rugged trail,” “dangerous terrain,” and “warning dangerous overlook” were posted which meant the paths to get there were hilly, rocky, rooted, and not clearly marked.  But what wonderful sights and sounds awaited at the end of the hike!!!!!  No two were alike (other than the steep and rugged trails) and we took several videos.  There is a peace that is present, even with the turbulent and violent splashing, as the clear water follows its downhill course.  We left about 10 am, had lunch along the way, drove lots of back roads, and returned home about 5 pm to a final group campfire – a fantastic day!

We had a relaxed packing up morning, leaving at 11:30 am Thursday August 23 after the morning devotion and break with our new volunteer friends.  We followed county highways into Michigan, crossed into Eastern Standard time zone, and followed the shore where we could see waves, whitecaps, and swimmers enjoying the day.  As we rounded the bends and caught glimpses of the Lake Michigan shore it reminded us of the California coast!  We left the “Yoopers” crossing the Mackinac Bridge about 5 pm and parked at Walmart overnight leaving about 5 hours of driving to south central Michigan on Friday.

There’s the wonder of sunset at evening, the wonder as sunrise I see . . .
There’s the wonder of springtime and harvest, the sky, the stars, the sun . . .
But the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul is the wonder that God loves me.                  O the wonder of it all, the wonder of it all, just to think that God loves me!
(Excerpts from “The Wonder of It All” George Beverly Shea © 1957)

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:38-39)

Thanks for being a part of our adventures!  You are often in our thoughts and prayers.
John and Connie Nicholas, Salty Strings Music Ministry

Contact Information:
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

MAIL ADDRESS:
John & Connie Nicholas ~ Salty Strings Music Ministry
255 N Sperry St, Bushnell, IL  61422

TRAVEL PLANS AND UPCOMING LOCATIONS

  • September – Camp Michindoh, south central Michigan,
  • October – Potomac Park, Falling Waters, West Virginia; upper northeast
  • November – Boys and Girls Home of NC, Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina; southeast
  • December – Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, Live Oak, Florida; north central
  • January/February – Camp Horizon, Leesburg, Florida; north central
  • March – Tentative – Acadian Baptist Center, Eunice, Louisiana; south central
  • April – Tentative – Northeast Texas
News

The Salt Shaker – July 2018

Our July Update        (Published Tuesday, August 28, 2018)     

Prayers – For cooler weather – as we write this we are doing physically demanding work with very hot & humid weather!

 Praises – We’ve been able to see God’s Spirit at work through our music ministry; passed the one-year mark from John’s cornea tear eye injury and all is well

Greetings to all:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.       Colossians 3:15-16


Our “month of music” started back in March and April with John making calls and contacts in northwest Wisconsin.  God blessed us with multiple engagements and still had a few surprises as the month progressed.  Our home base was a wonderful camp outside Fairchild, WI.   Little Creek Camp was recently purchased by a family with 3 boys who actually had “chores” (anyone remember what they are?) around the camp.  One area was permanent trailers for seasonal use, mostly weekend visits with grandchildren.  One of the boys would drive the lawn mower with a series of 5-gallon drums that had been made into “cars” with various themes, giving the kids a ride around the camp.  Our area had a few long-term line workers as residents and lots of weekenders.  Most visitors had 4-wheelers but the camp rules were followed and there was very little noise and partying.  It was a 1-mile walk going a figure-8 route around the camp, so we had lots of exercise, including bicycling on the back roads and with walking on the “hard road” several times.  Overall the weather was very hot, much more than we thought northwest Wisconsin would be!  Our trailer was in full sun so we used lots of electricity to keep cool inside.

Our scheduled music engagements included four coffeehouses and one church service.  Our first Saturday afternoon in the area we were in Eau Claire at the first coffeehouse (Gospel Christian Coffeehouse).  Although there were very few people we were able to chat with a few and pray for their outreach ministry mostly to meth addicts.  The following week we were in Chippewa Falls at a long-established ministry (Barnabas House) on Saturday evening.  There were more people and we were able to be a special blessing to some with the songs we choose to play.  The third week was a long drive north to Rice Lake for a Saturday evening at a ministry currently run by the founder of Barnabas House (Lighthouse Christian Center).  Not very many people but we were able to chat and pray with the founder, recovering from a fall from a ladder, and his wife.  The fourth week found us back on Saturday night at Barnabas House with a larger group of listeners.  The owner there joined us with some harmonica and whistles and a percussion wood “slinky” thing! Then Sunday morning was our church service at Osseo Community Church.  They became our home church family for our stay and we got quite attached to these people (Sunday potluck following the services helped).  We planned songs and scriptures to reinforce the pastor’s messages from Ephesians 5.  02 Osseo ServiceOf course, Sunday service plans are often interrupted, with our glitch being the power point (words to songs to sing along with) quitting in the early part of the service.  People sang along to what they remembered and we still had a great service as we encouraged and challenged the congregation.

Obviously, we did a lot of practicing, building up those callouses, and discovered we know more songs than we thought!  With only a couple duplicates of songs on different instruments we were able to fill about 7 hours of music including old hymns, original songs, instrumentals, and other Christian music.  Tuning was a bigger problem as the coffeehouses were not very well air conditioned and the weather hot and muggy.  One week we would be tuning down (everything had gone sharp from the humidity), the next week would go the other way.  A few things, especially our drum, did not work at all or would change through the programs.

We had some time to spend riding our bicycles and traveling.  The first road trip was to Black River Falls where they have a wonderful 4.1-mile loop around a part of the city.  A few sections were city streets, but most of it was asphalt paved, winding up and down 03 Merrillanhills and around curves.  We followed the Black River a bit, went by parks, a golf course and hospital, and a smaller stream flowing into the Black River.  We met our daughter Valerie in Tomah for dinner and grocery shopping before going home that day.  There was a beautiful dam and waterfall in Merrillan (an old mill pond dam on Hall’s Creek) along the way. 

We contemplated a trip to the Mall of America in Minneapolis, but decided it was too far away and too expensive to do any of the things we thought would be interesting.  We settled for a day in New Richmond where John graduated from high school.  Our first

stop was at the Chamber of Commerce to get information about bike routes and to use the restroom.  As we waited we noticed a summer music series and asked some questions.  The next thing we know we were hired for a Sunday afternoon concert to end their “Fun Days” weekend celebration.  We biked around the town, Connie getting a glimpse into the “teenage John” she never met.  As with all things, time changes the buildings and perceptions.  We then crossed the St. Croix river into Minnesota to walk around Stillwater and climb all the steps up the hillside.  It was a wonderful day and a much unexpected blessing to have another music ministry opportunity.

Other free time was spent with a campfire and working on arranging a song John wrote 18 years ago!  It turned out well with the hammer dulcimer and guitar.  John spent a lot of time buffing out the finish on the trailer, and also some time carving on his pocket tray (for those things men must carry in their pockets and put somewhere at night).  Connie installed two of three aluminum mini-blinds to our dining room windows; the old ones had broken and she had been waiting patiently for almost two months to find the time and space to get them replaced.

We were pushed to our limits at times with all the programs and practice.  Our last week of music was one of those times.  We had the Saturday night coffeehouse (home at 11:15 pm) followed by Sunday morning service (up at 6:30 am), a quick lunch at the church with a 2-hour drive to New Richmond for their concert.  It was hot and humid both days (everyone knows how much Connie loves heat and humidity!).  We got set up with our sound system cranked up as high as it would go to carry sound through a huge outdoor tent, played for 90 minutes, packed up, and headed home (with a stop at Denny’s for dinner and another stop at the end of the drive for DQ dessert).  God is faithful and supplied us the strength and stamina to do more than we could have on our own!

Tuesday, July 24, we were packed up, on our way west across Wisconsin to our resting place in Kewaunee.  Shortly before leaving our printer quit yet again, and we made the decision for the make and model to replace it.  A quick trip was made to Eau Claire with no success.  After getting set up we met our oldest son Aaron and he took us back about 30 minutes into Green Bay where we enjoyed supper and picked up a printer.  On Wednesday we drove north to Sturgeon Bay to meet him and traveled through Door County taking the ferry to Washington Island and another small ferry to Rock Island.  We docked at Thordarson’s blue limestone boathouse finished in 1929 and were able to go into the great room upstairs where some really fancy gatherings were held.  We then

proceeded to hike around the island, stopping at the north end to climb the lighthouse.  It truly was a hike, up and down hills, gravel and sand paths, and roots and rocky paths.  What a wonderful chance to view untouched land, gorgeous views of Green Bay, sandy and rocky beaches, and climb the steep steps to the top of the lighthouse.  Although there is now a solar energy panel, you can still see the bent wood fence around the garden.  Multiple families would live in the home with wood stoves in most rooms.  We caught the

last ferry from Rock Island and returned back to the mainland tired and hungry.  Our dinner was at Al’s Swedish Restaurant in Egg Harbor, one of the tourist attractions, where the goats eat the grass on the roofs of the buildings.  The goats were in for the night and a storm was headed our way as we ate and watched the clouds getting darker and closer.  We opted for some extra time at our son’s hotel and soaked in the hot tub (which helped our sore hiking muscles) before driving back to our trailer in the rain, thunder, and lightening.

Thursday morning found us packing up and heading north to our August project at Lake Lundgren Bible Camp outside of Pembine, Wisconsin.  Within 3 days we had passed through or saw signs directing us to:  Poland, Denmark, Alaska, Luxemburg, and Norway.  What a wonderful state Wisconsin is!13 WI Roadside

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.  Colossians 3:17

 Until next time, thanks for being a part of our adventures!

 

Thank you for your continued prayers and support!

John and Connie Nicholas, Salty Strings Music Ministry

Contact Information: Phone – John 909-336-8910 or Connie 909-336-8912 
Email: SaltyStrings@hotmail.com    Facebook:  Salty Strings Music Ministry

More information and our update blog:  SaltyStrings.com

ONLINE DONATIONS via PayPal through our web site

MAIL ADDRESS: John & Connie Nicholas,  Salty Strings Music Ministry
255 N Sperry Street, Bushnell, IL  61422

TRAVEL PLANS AND UPCOMING LOCATIONS

  • September – Camp Michindoh, south central Michigan,
  • October – Potomac Park, Falling Waters, West Virginia; upper northeast
  • November – Boys and Girls Home of NC, Lake Waccama, North Carolina; southeast
  • December/January/February – Tentative – northern Florida
  • March – Tentative – Acadian Baptist Center, Eunice, Lousiana
  • April – Tentative – Northeast Texas
News

The Salt Shaker – June 2018

Published Wednesday July 18, 2018 – Our June Update

Greetings to all:01 Turtle

How do you explain, how do you describe,
a love that goes from east to west
and runs as deep as it is wide?
You know all our hopes, You know all our fears
And words cannot express the way we feel,
but we long for You to hear
(From the song “Listen to our Hearts” by Geoff Moore)

In the same way, the spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the spirit, because the spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.                                                  Romans 8:26-27

Prayers – Continued strength for the ministry God has for us wherever we are; boldness to share the gospel; that we make the most of every opportunity placed before us, whether working with our hands or playing music; and that we always demonstrate the love of Christ for others to see.

 Praises – God has blessed us with multiple music engagements in July and August; able to work without back brace, continued strengthening of John’s lower back. 

We arrived at Timber-Lee Ministries outside of East Troy, Wisconsin on Friday, May 25.  It was great to be back here seeing some old friends, but different since we’ve always been here at the end of camp season and in the early fall.

02 Sandhill craneWildlife wasn’t as plentiful (possibly because the apples are not ripe for the deer), but we did have goslings with protective parents wandering all around, snapping turtles, a Sandhill crane in our backyard, deer in the field, and a nesting hawk along the path we walked to work (as well as warning signs that we might be attacked).

Our first week the guys built two tent decks in one area of the trailer/tent camp for training the kids going to Adventure camps.  They will use these staging areas to learn how to set up their tent before leaving “civilization.”  The remaining weeks included some remodeling in a dorm-type house for summer staff.  The kitchen/dining subfloor was done as well as minor fixes to vents, handrails, paint, door stops, fixing a broken chair, and moving bunk beds out and beds in.  John also helped the summer staff make an easel from scrap wood and delivered fans to the cabins.

The ladies started with cleaning the bakery shelves and machines, repaired the cord to the bread roller, and cleaned oodles of chairs from three dining areas before advancing to sorting the labels for the food lines and pulling the labels needed for four lines, each meal, each day, for the upcoming camp menus.  There was also kitchen prep work, pre-cleaning pans for the dish washer, and break down of boxes and tin cans.

The side legs finally broke off of our black metal “Welcome” sign leaving a very unstable rod to push into the ground.  After a few months of non-use, we designed a holder made of scrap wood, spent a few hours in their shop building it, and it works great!  (You never know what will happen transferring head plans to reality!)  We are now able to put up our wind sock, to judge speed and direction for our awning, and wind chimes which Connie loves to hear.

Our music ministry provided music for a Sunday service at Jefferson Prairie Church, just south of the state line in Illinois.  It was a great service with some fellowship time following.  We then went to brunch and spent most of the afternoon with Connie’s best friend from high school.  It was wonderful to have an afternoon doing nothing but enjoying friends, conversation, sunshine, a wonderful breeze, dogs, cats, miniature horses, and country air.

We went to the local Drive-In (Gus’s) twice this year.  For some reason we had not visited it before, but they have great food and are known for their ice cream.  The first time was mid-week where our purchase went to help the camp.  Then we heard they have car shows every Saturday so we went with our other SOWER couple to see the cars.  We also had to visit our favorite 2-for-1 Monday night special pizza place and spent several hours visiting with 3 other SOWER couples as we enjoyed our pizzas.

Connie spent a lot of time on the road driving between the camp and Beloit (about 45 minutes each way) and long days to help get her Mom into a facility and work on cleaning up her house from mice.  Being closer to family also led to many visits with her brother, sister, and niece’s family and children.  A busy time but enjoyable as well.  Father’s Day we spent at our friend’s church in South Beloit, renewing acquaintances and enjoying a final meal with them.

The weather was hot and humid for much of our stay.  Of course, the one weekend they had other campers coming to the camp area it rained.  It also rained off and on for several days before we were to leave.  There was ‘no rain’ in the forecast, so we left all the packing up for first thing in the morning.  By 10 am it was raining!  We finished up, had lunch at the camp, and met the camp maintenance director with the tractor to pull our trailer out.  We were parked in a grassy spot slightly downhill from the road and knew with the rain, slick grass, and uphill pull, that our van would only spin tires.  After getting hooked up we made fairly good time and stopped at a rest area near Portage with a beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright style building and wild native flowers.  We arrived in Fairchild, Wisconsin about supper time, hot and tired, and looking forward to our month of music ministry and rest!

16 WI Roadside We know that the whole of creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Romans 8:22-23

 

Listen to our hearts, hear our spirit sing
a song of praise that flows from those you have redeemed.
We will use the words we know to tell you what an awesome God you are
But words are not enough to tell you of our love, so listen to our hearts.
(Chorus to “Listen to our Hearts” by Geoff Moore)

 Thank you for your continued prayers and support!
John and Connie Nicholas, Salty Strings Music Ministry

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

MAIL ADDRESS:        John & Connie Nicholas ~ Salty Strings Music Ministry
255 N Sperry Street, Bushnell, IL  61422

TRAVEL PLANS AND UPCOMING LOCATIONS

  • August – Camp Lundgren, Pembine, Wisconsin; upper northeast Wisconsin
  • September – Camp Michindoh, south central Michigan
  • October – Potomac Park, Falling Waters, West Virginia; upper northeast
  • November – Tentative – Georgia
  • December/January – Tentative – Florida
  • February/March/April – Tentative – Louisiana and/or Northeast Texas
News

The Salt Shaker – April/May 2018

Easter Sunrise 2018Greetings to all – Our April/May Update

These are the words of the apostle John, from Revelation 21 Then I saw a new Heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making everything new!”

Prayers – Until that glorious time, things will continue to deteriorate and need to be repaired or painted, or healed, which includes our fading bodies and fading structures. We did a lot of painting this round of walls and structures, and John’s back took some weeks to slowly improve to near-normal function. Please pray for continued strength for the work that needs to be done wherever the Lord leads us.

Praises – Safe arrival in Illinois; visits with friends; love gifts; cable temple glasses; new web page design; trailer roof; son Christopher healed to walk for his wedding.

After several attempts we finally made it to Illinois! We kept planning “leave” dates and had to keep moving them forward. It became no surprise for those at church to see us again! We watched the weather and temperatures in the north, which were not favorable, and gauged the slowly healing back. We were able to leave Louisiana, after one 40-degree night, to arrive at Little Galilee in Illinois on April 11 to windy but warm weather. We kept an eye on our trailer roof as we drove, but had to stop during day 2 in downtown St. Louis when it started billowing up and flapping around. (It had come loose and made another small tear on the side.) John taped it down again and we made it on time for a late lunch with the Pastor and his wife from Carlinville along our route. We were able to get to a RV dealer a few miles from our camp before they closed to assess the damage and repair possibilities (ranging from $500-$1200).

John’s back is still a problem, getting worse again after setting up, and the weather was extremely cold and windy our first 2 weeks here. Night one we were unable to hook up to water, needing additional hose, and ran out of water from our tank (we travel with enough for a couple of days on the road). Our 5th night we thought we were set and prepared for a couple of nights below freezing – water in the tank and the furnace turned on (our heaters do well if it stays above 40-45). Thought we’d warm it up a bit before getting into bed, kicking the furnace up, but only cold air was blowing – we were out of propane! So, we prepared for a cold night’s sleep. Shortly after midnight a storm front came through with some rain followed by the power going off. John dressed and went outside, checking our power and the main panel, while Connie remained under the blankets listening to his footsteps crunch on the grass, thinking about the “normal” power outage time in central Illinois. Thankfully the power was on again in about 1 1/2 hours, and the heaters managed to keep it about 60 in the bedroom and 50 in the living area of the trailer. We immediately filled BOTH propane tanks in the morning and spent the rest of the day getting “warmed up” from being chilled. Two lessons learned, carry a bit more than “just enough water” and keep at least one propane tank full!

We met our friend Larry Stevens and he was able to stay a few nights next to us at Little Galilee. We have both been crisscrossing the US but never in the same place at the same time. He has a nursing home ministry and did a few programs in the area. It was a blessing to be together again and to have him as a “substitute” musician at a scheduled program for a Senior lunch in Decatur while John’s back was recovering.

By the end of our first week John was able to do some work for the camp. We worked together most of the time at the “old” offices at one end of a maintenance shed. Before we left we had repainted the ceiling and walls in two rooms, cleaned and reinstalled shelving, sanded and varnished the window and floor trim in one room, scraped and repainted outside window/door trim, cleaned and painted both sides of the inside entry door, and finished up the exterior primer/paint, providing Little Galilee with over 90 hours of volunteer labor, including helping “build” a Gaga ball pit.

We were also asked to help with some interior repainting of our home church (Lane Christian) in a small town about 15 minutes from our camp. We spent a few days there trimming, John on a ladder doing the ceiling and doors (sometimes with a little artist’s brush) while Connie crawled around the baseboard trim. (Another church member did all the roller work.) We were able to get the long education hallway and some of the entry walls painted with two coats.


May 15 found us at Bloomington airport at 5 am for our trip to Manassas Park, Virginia for our youngest son Christopher’s wedding. What a great time we had bustling around with the final preparations. Chris stayed with us at the hotel (his former housing was an hour away) and provided our transportation to all the activities and events. After three days Connie received his car keys and we managed to navigate through the traffic to get where we had to be. Connie enjoyed her first manicure and pedicure, had her hair done with curls that didn’t frizz in the rainy and damp weather, and even had some makeup for the wedding. John enjoyed the golf driving range (although not very good) and the trip to Chick-fil-A with the wedding party (after they were dressed for the wedding). Although rain fell most of the day it didn’t fall during the important times and even allowed for a few outdoor pictures they had wanted. It was a wonderful wedding service with Christ at the center, where He has been throughout their engagement and wedding plans. Christopher was able walk without his cane for the majority of the wedding and reception, what a miracle!

Looking back at our 6 weeks in central Illinois we had lots of other activity as well. John’s 25-year-old eyeglass frame broke with no one being able to replace the cable temple. God led us to All About Eyes where he was able to get a similar cable temple frame, the prescription he wanted (after convincing the optometrist), and two pairs for the price of one. Our trailer roof was repaired, actually the front portion was replaced, while we were away for the wedding – great since we didn’t need to live in it during that time! We did transfer all our instruments and refrigerator items to storage places at the camp (no electric hookup to the trailer while in the service department) and they allowed us to plug in and sleep before going to the airport and when we arrived back (at 12:30 am after multiple delays to our flight from Atlanta to Bloomington). Since it was humid and in the 90’s during the day and 70’s at night the air conditioning was greatly appreciated! As we were parking a trailer tire flattened, additional expense to get the valve stem replaced, but what a blessing it happened at the RV dealer and not on the road. After returning and getting the trailer back to camp we noticed both front van tires were down to the wear marks, so we were off to get new tires – all four of them since the remaining tires had maybe another 6 months use and we would have to find a good tire dealer in a “strange” place. We also upgraded our web page, something that has been needed for a few years with all the new technology, media types, etc. We have not been able to edit our web site because of software issues so it was out of date as well as not appearing well on cell phones. Although a bit more than we had hoped to spend we received a wonderful deal that included a photo session, design, technical support, a blog for our updates (still not sure how that works), and meetings at Panera Bread. Check out our new web site and some wonderful new pictures (we have gotten older!).

We packed and traveled north to Timber-lee Ministries, our SOWER project for June, arriving on May 25. To be continued in our next update!

“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Blessed are those that wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.” Jesus, Revelation 22

Until next time, thanks for being a part of our adventures!

John and Connie Nicholas, Salty Strings Music Ministry

Contact Information: Phone – John 909-336-8910 or Connie 909-336-8912
Email – SaltyStrings@hotmail.com    Facebook – Salty Strings Music Ministry

Check out our NEW web site: SaltyStrings.com
ONLINE DONATIONS via PayPal through our web site

MAIL ADDRESS: John & Connie Nicholas ~ Salty Strings Music Ministry
255 N Sperry Street, Bushnell, IL 61422

TRAVEL PLANS AND UPCOMING LOCATIONS
† June – southern Wisconsin Timber-Lee Camp, East Troy
† July – Music Ministry Chippewa Falls, Rice Lake, Eau Claire; northwest Wisconsin
† August – Camp Lundgren, Pembine, Wisconsin; upper northeast Wisconsin
† September – Camp Michindoh, south central Michigan,
† October – Potomac Park, Falling Waters, West Virginia

Uncategorized

The Salt Shaker – March 2018

Eunice, LA
Flowers

Wednesday, April 18, 2018 – Our March Project Update

How deep the Father’s love for us,
how vast beyond all measure.
That He should give His only Son
to make a wretch His treasure.
(“How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” by Stuart Townend)

Greetings to all our family, followers, and friends:

Praises – Welcoming and gracious camp, extended stay, great meals in the dining hall prepared by “Miss Peggy” and her staff; a wonderful welcome back to the Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church family.

 Answered prayers:  Open doors for music ministry, unexpected contacts for music in Illinois, scheduled music ministry at Christian coffeehouses and churches in Wisconsin for July.

Prayers Continuing regardless of obstacles to meet and plan music ministry; complete healing of back problems; funds for roof repair.

On our way to Louisiana we had our first tunnel to drive through as we went through Mobile, Alabama.  We purposely avoided the interstate tunnel in Phoenix in December 2015, but we are certainly more comfortable driving now.  It was the peak of crawfish season here and we saw many “boats” in the fields, some were walk behind, others had a paddlewheel at the back, bringing in the harvest.  We arrived about the same time as our two other SOWER couples, finding to our surprise that both were from Wisconsin (our home state for many years) and we had attended church with the parents of one couple!  As usual there was instant friendship that deepened as we got to know each other better.  Our devotions in the morning were attended by staff and other volunteers as well as our breaks, and there were plenty of snacks and meals that we were blessed with.

We reconnected with Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church about a block away (we were last here in November 2015).  We joined in with their Sunday School, service, and evening service as well as attending a movie night, and salad supper.  We were able to play for their Easter Sunrise Service on the island at the camp, as well as a concert March 18 with a “wee bit” of Irish music followed by ice cream, of course!  It was wonderful having lots of space to set up and practice in our trailer.

Our work was very physical here.  The ladies finished painting the outside of the lodge (hotel) room doors and trim (final count 30 1/2, both sides of one door) with one coat oil base primer and two or more coats of latex paint.  Connie removed the hardware and numbers, painted most of the lower trim work, and reinstalled the hardware at the end.  One of the other ladies did the “rolling” and the other the upper trim work since she didn’t need a ladder!  There were several stiff and sore mornings from all the kneeling and stretching.

 

The guys worked together at a house with rolling floors to replace the floor as needed.  In Louisiana homes are built on slabs, on pillars, or as this one above the ground with little air flow.  In this area you also hit hard clay about 12″ under the mud muck so houses remain stable but any rain/mud eventually causes rotting.  They cut through two layer of flooring to find the joists and some beams needing reinforcement or replacing.  By the end of the project they had completed all the beams and joists in the majority of this 3 bedroom home and had all the 3/4″ underlayment done.  John was the smallest and got to shimmy around on his back “under” the floor, squeezing under the joists to twist and pound in the reinforcing or new construction.

We took several walks around the pond, fed the fish (largest was palm size), tried to feed the shy ducks, finally saw the baby alligator new to the pond, and Connie saw two snakes in the drainage ditch on a longer walk,  We were serenaded especially in the morning by our bright green trailer frog, were careful not to roll them up in the awning, and were more careful unrolling the awning as they went scurrying about.  There was springtime all around us as the azaleas, white fringe tree, yellow and eventually purple iris bloomed.  We went as a group into Eunice to the Prairie Acadian Cultural Center where we saw a film on the history of Acadiana and the people who settled in this area, listened to a Cajun band, and learned about  “Loozianna” cookin’ and enjoyed shrimp etouffee (et-2-fay, similar to a highly seasoned cooked down stew over rice).  The camp director and his wife treated the SOWERs to a meal at Chef Roy’s in Frog City where we had fried alligator and eggplant fries as an appetizer, interesting and good.08 20180317_153750

 

All the conference center events were available for us to attend.  The first weekend was a marriage seminar and a Catholic engaged couples encounter (thought about our son and his fiancée as they have done this).  The second weekend was the ACTS men’s retreat (Catholic group:  Adoration, Community, Theology, Service).  The third was a ladies retreat with a wonderful speaker from South Carolina.  And our last weekend was another ACTS group, ladies this time.  Us SOWER ladies enjoyed this retreat and we all enjoyed the food!!

God has greatly blessed our endeavors to share our music ministry.  We have had several “business meetings” to dream and plan and pray about the directions to go.  John started making calls for taking a month off in July for ministry.  What a blessing and encouragement as we have reserved a place to stay and have five programs on the calendar already.

03 20180318_15172802 031818 Concert

“Our” plan was to leave on Tuesday March 27 to head to our home church and camp at Little Galilee in Clinton, Illinois for Easter.  In His wisdom God had other plans.  As we were preparing to start the “pack up” mode John picked up his mandolin (probably the lightest case we have) and his back went out.  After a few days of heat and ice and Tylenol we knew we would have to cancel our travel plans and two music events for our home church (Good Friday and Men’s Fellowship).  Although painful and slow in healing this setback kept us in the warmth of the south instead of 20’s and 30’s in Illinois.  Trailers are not well insulated and we don’t have much for “winter” clothing!

           For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

           For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.  (John 3:16-17)

Until next time, thanks for being a part of our adventures!

John and Connie Nicholas
Salty Strings Music Ministry

Contact Information:      Phone – John 909-336-8910 or Connie 909-336-8912
Email – SaltyStrings@hotmail.com     Facebook – Salty Strings Music Ministry
ONLINE DONATIONS via PayPal through our web site:  SaltyStrings.com
MAIL ADDRESS:        John & Connie Nicholas ~ Salty Strings Music Ministry
255 N Sperry Street, Bushnell, IL  61422

TRAVEL PLANS AND UPCOMING LOCATIONS

 

  • April and May – back “home” at Little Galilee Christian Camp, Clinton, IL
  • June – southern Wisconsin Timber-Lee Camp, East Troy
  • July – Music Ministry Chippewa Falls, Black River Falls, Eau Claire; northwest Wisconsin
  • August – tentative, northeast Wisconsin Camp Lundgren
  • September – tentative, south central Michigan, Camp Michindoh
  • October – tentative, Potomac Park, Falling Waters, West Virginia

 

Uncategorized

The Salt Shaker – February 2018

Friday, March 16, 2018 – Our February Project Update

For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies . .
For the wonder of each hour, of the day and of the night
Hill and vale and tree and flower, sun and moon and stars of light . . .
(“For the Beauty of the Earth” by Folliott Sandford Pierpoint)

Greetings to all our family, followers, and friends:

Praises – Van catalytic convertors replaced at less than quote; Connie’s first social security check; hearing from many of you following our updates!

 Answered prayers:  Lots of good walking paths; encouragement and contacts for future music ministry; Godly wisdom and guidance for unexpected needs.

Prayers Travel to central Illinois; mild weather once there; song selection for Good Friday and Men’s Fellowship music; trailer roof repair/replace; open doors as we make calls for Illinois music programs in April-May and Wisconsin programs in July.

We have had several lessons in flexibility since our last update.  On this project we lived off-site and traveled to two locations for our work.  That meant varying time schedules depending on which location we were working at.  The never answered ladies question was “and when are we leaving today?”  Our patience was also tried and tested at the SOWER reunion as our planned times and programs kept being modified.  Going with the flow and off the cuff is not always an easy thing to do, especially with music programs!

February 2 was a very short trip to our camp site at Lake Aurora; from the country north to the country east of Lake Wales (via the west/south as there are no roads anywhere else).  02 OfficeWe arrived, leveled, unhooked, and connected the electricity before a quick run back to town for a Chinese lunch then back for our meeting with 4 other couples.  It was great to be working with so many others.  We had beautifully landscaped large sites, orange groves around us, and the fragrance of orange blossoms in the air by the end of our stay.  Connie found fire ants (first major episode this season) within a few steps down the side of the trailer, along with gecko/lizards that scurried away as we walked anywhere.

Lake Wales Care Center (our project) receives wonderful support from the community and churches in the area.  They provide meals, counseling, a food pantry, dental and medical clinics, transitional housing, and a lot more.  In return their clients have accountability, ownership (through work hours with the ministry), and direction to get back on track as best for them and their families.  Because of all the different ministries they have multiple properties to take care of along with their offices, warehouses, thrift stores, and meeting areas.

The ladies worked together splitting their time between two thrift stores.  Although similar in operation the methods and rules for sorting, pricing, and display of donated goods varied greatly.  Each store had a “free bread day” where local grocery bakeries provided bread and sweets for the shoppers to take home.  One store was 2 items per person, the other store was 2 items per family — and there was always a line waiting to get in at this location.

The men worked in smaller groups most of the time finishing the walls and building book shelves for the “Book Nook” at one of the thrift stores, building shelves from odd lumber for sorting and storage at the other thrift store, moving things from a storage trailer into permanent storage, and remodeling a transitional living apartment.  Again it is amazing who God places together.  The skills to do bathroom tub tiling, replace patio doors with windows, leveling floors, using scrap lumber to make shelves, and matching in replacement hardwood strips were all available.

We had noticed our van getting more rattles for several months, especially on acceleration, and took it to a Christian mechanic who gave several options for replacing the catalytic convertors.  We chose to have both replaced with after market convertors (one was done about 2 years ago but wasn’t holding up the best).  When we arrived for our appointment the owner had his left hand bandaged up, he had lost a finger over the weekend.  Then he found they had sent the wrong convertors (guess the longer wheel base needed something different).  Then his welder quit and he had to purchase a new one!  The repairs were finished finally and the cost was less than the original quote, much to our surprise (but still used up most of Connie’s first retirement check).  You assume the worst when you hear “they had some problems while it was on the hoist” more than once.  So far we have no “check engine” light and it is so quiet we hear the sound of things sliding around!

February is a month of special events for us.  First was Valentine’s Day where the SOWER and independent couples joined for a group of 25 and went a bit south to the Jacaranda in Avon Park, Florida.  We had been here once before on one of our trips to visit John’s parents who wintered in Avon Park for many years – it was for breakfast though.  Second was John’s Birthday!  07 BirthdayHe has now officially joined the “seniors” even though he remains the youngest of our SOWER groups.  Connie had a surprise lunch in the works when John requested going to Perkins for French silk pie.  We combined a few errands with a Perkins lunch followed by a walk through downtown Bartow.  What a surprise when we arrived and saw the “Men in Black” coming towards us as we parked.  On walking further we found we were in the middle of a Sci-Fi convention complete with costumes, cars, booths, and displays.  John was thrilled!

At the invite of fellow independent campers we went to a Christian Missionary Alliance church where we found a wonderful Sunday School and service time.  Although we didn’t have an opportunity to share our music we were able to hear from a missionary couple from Spain who compared Spain with the parable of the sower; their soil is hard and trodden down with only the gypsies (who stay in their own communities) and those less fortunate (homeless, addicts) being open to the Bible.  We were also invited to Bok Gardens with a couple from church who have annual passes that allow them to bring guests, and they bought us lunch as well!  What a wonderful place to be in the spring; trees blossoming, multiple pots of orchids, and a huge bird of paradise blossom.

The gardens have grown so much since our last visit 10-15 years ago, but the tower remains as beautiful as ever.  The carillon music is now “televised” in a little park setting where you can watch the carillon “keys” being played (with the fleshy part of the side of the hand).  After the performance you can talk with the carillon player; ours was from Belgium where there are many carillons still in use.  Bok Tower has the largest carillon and the largest bell at 12 ton, played by a kick of the foot to a large lever.

We did get to share a little music at the camp before we left – the independent guys had been fishing for several months and did a fish fry (bass) with a potluck, concert, and campfire to end the evening!  10 Connie DulcimerMonday morning found us packing up for a 3 hour trip to Groveland, Florida where there were about 30 other RV’s parked for our SOWER reunion.  We adjusted our concert and devotion plans as there had been schedule changes.  It was a great time of fellowship and relaxing once we were finished with our music.  Spring is following us around, including the yellow dust (much like the red dust from the corn silos in central Illinois) that covered the outside (and some inside) of our van and trailer.

We hitched up again on Thursday morning March 1 for our two-day drive to Louisiana with hot temperatures, blooming pink/purple flowers and blue chicory in the ditches, and gusty winds as we headed west in the Florida panhandle.  By late afternoon we noticed a bulge in our trailer roof.  John investigated and taped it up with Gorilla tape at a rest stop.  Back on the road but then came the rain, a heavy downpour thankfully of short duration, with no leaks detected.  We kept the speed at 65 the rest of the trip and kept checking the roof; the winds died down for our second day of travel and the roof still bulged up a little bit.  We arrived outside of Eunice, Louisiana (Loouuusi-anna) mid afternoon ready to set up, get refreshed, and start our new project Monday morning.

As we served this month we were challenged in many ways.  One of the most impressive was hearing of the hardness in Spain along with being part of a ministry to downtrodden people in the Lake Wales area.  We had to ask ourselves “what are we doing with the time we have?”  There are so many needs around us, let us always have our eyes open for the opportunities to be a blessing to others.11 Sundial

Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  (Ephesians 5:15-16, NIV)

 So seize any opportunity the Lord gives you to do good things and be a blessing to everyone, especially those within our faithful family.  (Galatians 6:10, The Voice Translation)

 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.  (Colossians 4:5-6, NIV)

Until next time, thanks for being a part of our adventures!

John and Connie Nicholas
Salty Strings Music Ministry

Contact Information:      Phone – John 909-336-8910 or Connie 909-336-8912
Email – SaltyStrings@hotmail.com     Facebook – Salty Strings Music Ministry
ONLINE DONATIONS via PayPal through our web site:  SaltyStrings.com
MAIL ADDRESS:        John & Connie Nicholas ~ Salty Strings Music Ministry
255 N Sperry Street, Bushnell, IL  61422

TRAVEL PLANS AND UPCOMING LOCATIONS

  • March – Acadian Baptist Camp, Eunice, LA
  • April and May – back “home” to Little Galilee, Clinton, IL
  • June – tentative, southern Wisconsin Timber-Lee Camp
  • July – tentative, Music Ministry in northwest Wisconsin