The Salt Shaker

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

The Salt Shaker – January 2022

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and has made the Lord his hope and confidence.  He is like a tree planted along a riverbank, with its roots reaching deep into the water – a tree not bothered by the heat nor worried by long months of drought.  Its leaves stay green, and it goes right on producing all its luscious fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8 The Living Bible

Praises – This season of rest; sleeping in; some CraigsList items gone, more space and less weight; family members who had Covid; monetary blessings received.

Prayers – Health and healing for family members; trailer parts; concert Leesburg (rescheduled).

Hello to our friends, family, and followers:

We had a leisurely journey Monday, January 3, from Leesburg to a bit north of Thonotosassa Florida.  We took the back highways seeing lots of cattle and bulls with horns in the fields.  One “old” highway was a bit neglected and bumpy.  On arrival we found our site to be difficult to get parked.  Thankfully there was no one behind us and we were able to pull through.  After several attempts we settled with their old power meter fitting between two slides.  Getting out will be a bigger job!

Along the way we passed Richloam Clay Sink Road with signs leading to the Rochloam General Store, founded in 1922 as the store, post office, and train depot until 1936.  Further research found the building being restored in 2016 and reopened, as a post office and State Historic Site, in 2017. 

We made a connection with the park activity director and found we could contribute special music and Connie could play her keyboard with the organist for the church services here, and we scheduled a concert for February 6.  We found Lazy Days RV parts/service a short drive away and ordered our trailer parts, but never received a confirmation and found the parts were not ordered after visiting again towards the end of the month.  Our 2nd day here the water was off with a water main break, thankfully we had enough water in our trailer to carry us through.  Water line breaks should come with advance warning!  There are plenty of scheduled and special activities going on and John has been to jam sessions and open mic night while Connie gets to play card games with our Indiana friends and BINGO at the recreation center (she actually won one game).

Our weather this month has been interesting with some hot and muggy days and a few cold and dreary days.  One night we had wind gusts 30-35 mph as a front pushed in from the north.  We used our furnace several nights (switching over from our heat pump around 3am) and had two mornings with power fluctuations where our electric surge protector tripped meaning a minimum of 2 minutes to turn back on; quite frustrating.  We were mostly in the 70’s during the day and our overnight low was 28, but NO snow or ice!

Although we haven’t gotten back into the recording this month, we were contacted by the activity director when the group cancelled for their “pass the hat” concert on January 9.  Within 24 hours we put together a set, unstrapped the instruments, practiced, played, and received several compliments from the listeners; very encouraging for us.  A Bible Study started up mid-month and we were asked to provide a song or two to start, that was quite enjoyable as well (the music and the study).  You may also notice we are experimenting with a few video clips online as well – one from the concert, the other testing our new sound equipment taken with a tripod and our phone in the trailer.

We have known for a while and been praying about what to do with our 20+ year old sound system that is starting to fail and has some quirks.  We started doing some research, stopped by a Tampa music store where we could look at some microphones, and finally ordered a few things.  The new equipment arrived bringing several days of trailer turmoil as we hooked up cords and tested out our new toys, including some home videos to see what we sounded like.  We now have a new stand bag, wireless earpiece mics, and a more compact sound/speaker system.  It weighs a bit less than before but each speaker is carried separately so it seems a lot lighter.  We found we can pack the complete sound system and probably all our instruments into the back seat of the truck, wonderful!  Debut “live” test will be our February concert here in the recreation hall.

Connie “sold” her last stained-glass piece at the concert so she eventually got everything out, sorted and cleaned the donated glass, made patterns, cut pieces outside, set up the grinder, and found it is getting easier with the pieces fitting together better.  Foiling is still challenging but soldering is getting easier with 7 pieces (crosses and hearts) in process for our scheduled Leesburg concert at the end of January.  This concert was cancelled due to inclement weather so she got a reprieve and an extra week to finish up, good since she didn’t start soon enough.

Typically, we have a church in mind to attend for our stay and we went there our first Sunday.  The Pastor was out with Covid so there was a good recorded message.  We talked with a few folks but never heard back from anyone.  The second Sunday we stayed here in the park, and the following Sunday we went with our friends to a large Baptist church 10 minutes “down the road” with a Sunday School small group after the service.  Our last Sunday in January we stayed here at the park again.  Both times here we shared a special music song and Connie played her keyboard with the organist for the hymns.

The park has a relationship with a Bible University giving students a chance to preach here and both student messages were great, giving us things to think about.  The first message from Jeremiah was about our roots – deep roots will reroute around obstacles, keep us from giving in to temptations, and give us nourishment and completeness.  Turns out this message was repeated in devotions throughout the month.  The second message was on our response to adversity (those obstacles perhaps) and was from Job.  Three examples were given:  Job’s wife responded with emotion, Job’s friends with fault-finding, and Job responded with integrity and praise.  Lots to meditate on. 

Of course, after hearing some good messages, the obstacles and adversity come.  Early in our stay John found the underbelly storage floor was wet.  After removing some divider walls the drip was coming from the shower faucet area, completely non-accessible to work on.  Things were dried out and it seemed to go away but, just in case, he fashioned a paint tray to catch the water if it happens again, wrapped plastic around the bottom of the dividers, and caulked around the faucet.  We’ll check it again after rolling down the road.  We also have a water hose pressure reducer that has been on our hose since December 2019.  The last several months we have not needed it but can’t get it off the hose – it was finally unstuck with the help of our neighbors.

While in Zephyrhills (about 15 minutes north) for a shared branch credit union, we found ourselves off-roading in our truck.  To get from the far west part of town to Hobby Lobby in the north we took city streets rather than highways.  Mistake – these “appear to be streets” on the map program turned from gravel to dirt to mud with a hand-painted sign “do not continue unless you have 4-wheel drive – you will get stuck.”  We got backed up in the mud, turned around, back-tracked, and continued a different way, still having to do a short stretch of mud road before arriving; the truck running boards are still carrying a bit of mud! 

Our exercise this month has been hindered by the weather and condition of the pool, quite dirty with green slime the first week (very warm though and we did swim a few times).  It was shock treated and didn’t open back up for several days, then the heater wasn’t working well taking another few days to finally reach 73, too cold for us to swim.  In the mean time we take several walks and bike rides within the park, seeing a huge full moon rising on one evenings’ walk.  We rode our bikes to the State Park dirt roads, continued to the Hillsborough River, and saw what we believe to be a 10’ plus alligator (3-4’ wide) in the weeds across the river.  People kayak and canoe through that area quite often, scary to think about.

We have had plenty to eat this month – twice at a Mexican restaurant, Golden Panda Chinese Buffet (it’s been a long time, really good food too!), Martha’s (diner-like with great prices and lots of food).  We have also reconnected with our Indiana friends for a chili supper, a “Country Club” dinner with a High School classmate of John’s brother, and lunch made for us with a Florida violinist friend.  She lives in a house on her son’s farmette with goats and open-range chickens that provided a colorful assortment of eggs for us to bring home.  One of our Mexican meals was with Ethiopian missionaries Jim and Sherry Rankin with lots of stories of the ongoing war there and how God is working to share the salvation story with them.  Connie is also continuing her culinary experiments; this month was eggnog, beef stew, split pea soup (successes) and using the air fryer with biscuits and cornbread (still not quite right).

With all that is going on it was great for Connie to be able to volunteer serving at the first “dinner” here at the park; she enjoyed this and the left-over stuffed chicken breast was great.  Later we attended an omelet breakfast where one person cooked over 84 custom omelets in less than an hour.  Connie noticed he could use some help, offered, and got the cooked omelets to their owners so he could keep cooking.  We’d like to think it was her “servants’ heart” but perhaps it was just hunger with about 50 omelets ahead of us.  We are now comfortable with no set schedule, and sleep in several mornings to 8 or 8:30 (that’s late for Connie).  Probably not a good habit to develop but this is “vacation” right?

From messages and devotions this month we believe we are to develop our roots by growing deeper in our faith during this season of rest.  We are like trees planted in this spot for this season.  Our roots grow by acting in faith and trusting God.  Trust is never passive but always in motion, being exercised and stretched, and leads to peace.  May this find each of you at peace as well.

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy, without holiness no one will see the Lord.  Hebrews 12:14  NIV

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

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

The Salt Shaker ~ December 2021

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

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

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

Hello to our followers, friends, and family:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for traveling with us! 
John and Connie Nicholas, Salty Strings Music Ministry

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

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

ONLINE DONATIONS via PayPal through our web site

TRAVEL PLANS AND UPCOMING LOCATIONS

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

The Salt Shaker ~ November 2021

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

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

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

Hello to our family, followers, and friends:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ONLINE DONATIONS via PayPal through our web site

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