South Africa

Peanut Butter & Jam Sandwiches Make Happy Kids in South Africa

At 2pm each Wednesday, hundreds of young children come running from every corner of the Leseding Township for singing, spiritual fellowship and nutritious food other than their day-to-day corn porridge.DSC_0363 All 600-700 of these kids are talkative, mannered and happy as the Letabo (Happy Place in their Sesotho language) Kid’s Club, is about to begin.

One by one, they eagerly fast walk into the Adoni Christian Church building DSC_0445where up to 10 children sit per bench for their weekly club meeting. Young children up to age 10 from the Leseding Township in Vaalwater, South Africa come for Christian education, friendships, soccer and those peanut butter and jam sandwiches(PB&J) with milk.

Marilyn Cook Missionary in South Africa
Marilyn Cook Missionary in South Africa

With donated funds, Marilyn Cook, director of the Kid’s Club who has been a USA missionary for 48 years in South Africa, buys 90 loaves of bread, 12 kilograms (almost 2 pounds) of peanut butter and 900 grams (1.98 pounds) of jam to make those sandwiches. And she buys the 80 liters (21 gallons) of fresh whole milk from a local Vaalwater farmer. DSC_0536 Total per sandwich and one serving of milk is 2.50 South African Rand or 25 ½ cents USD

Began in 2001 as a soup kitchen, the Letabo Kid’s Club leadership was assumed by Marilyn when the previous lady had to leave because of health issues.

Photo by June Landrum
Photo by June Landrum

In 2002, the weekly soup kitchen was boycotted by the neighborhood children because it was a hot summer day and they did not want hot soup.DSC_0670So, PB&J sandwiches and milk were offered and the children happily returned to eat those sandwiches. The meetings grew then from 15-30 young children to 600-700 today and growing everyday.  At Christmas time, the club attendance numbers up to 2,000 kids.DSC_0571

The Kid’s Club began meeting in a tent, and the meetings were going just fine until the tent blew down and was destroyed in a 2010 storm.

Photo by June Landrum
Photo by June Landrum

So then a roof covered concrete slab was built and it worked well for 3 years until the new church building was built in its place. DSC_0580A veranda-patio was later attached to the church building for serving food and other social activities. And the kids love their new church building for their gatherings.

At the Kid’s Club meetings, youth under 10 sing gospel songs in English/Sesotho and Bible stories are told to them in Sesotho.DSC_0453 In addition, they learn about and perform a story from the Bible at each meeting, and say the Lord’s Prayer in Sesotho. DSC_0474Taught by one of the young pastors, the children say a prayer thanking the Father for their food.

After the club activities, it is now time to eat and row after row of children line up next to the food on the veranda for that PB&J sandwich and a glass of milk.DSC_0522 DSC_0427

Immediately, some take a huge bite of the sandwich but many just guzzle the entire glass of milk first.DSC_0646

The outstanding result of the Kid’s Club is that the older youth help set up benches, tables, and microphone, and make the sandwiches. DSC_0531DSC_0583

Then they serve the sandwiches and milk to the children followed by cleaning the dishes and the church building to its original condition.

“It wasn’t like this in the beginning,” Marilyn said, “But our teachings about helping others and being an outstanding person have caused the older 10-18 year-olds to help the younger ones by showing them love and the love of Jesus, and to treat them with respect.”DSC_0520

As a reward for their work and compassion, the older children are given extra bread, boloney, and fruit drink to eat. “The older children are hungry also so we have extra food for them in case the PB&J sandwiches are gone,” Marilyn explained.  “Even the youngest child wants to help even though many of them barely can carry a bench.” DSC_0607DSC_0426

In the beginning, they just wanted to be a part of the event and help others,” Marilyn said. “But now, they also are being rewarded for their work and compassion with the extra food and more and more children are attending and getting into the joy of serving.”DSC_0617

Marilyn points out she receives great joy from helping these children because “they are happy little kids while learning to know Jesus as their friend and they are getting good nutritious food.” Photo by June Landrum

Bible Study is also being taught on Saturday for the 10-14 year-olds and for the older ones 15-30. Up to 50 of the younger ones attend the studies. They call themselves the “Revolution” and they bring their younger siblings with them. Cake baked by Marilyn is served at the end of the class. And if she doesn’t have time to bake the cakes, she serves cookies/biscuits.

Photo by June Landrum
Photo by June Landrum


Marilyn also edits a magazine THE SOURCE for St. John the Baptist Community Church, which is located in the bush, 20 Km (approx. 12.5 miles) from Vaalwater, South Africa. “People from all over the world come to this church and they overwhelmed by the casual yet deep spiritual messages and fellowship,” Marilyn pointed out. Her magazine can be viewed on her website, where donations can also be made. DSC_0463

So thanks to Marilyn and her 48 years as a missionary serving the disadvantaged peoples of South Africa, many children in the township have a nutritious meal at least once a week along with Christian education and fellowship.DSC_0436 And they keep coming from all over and lining up in advance for the 2 pm Kid’s Club meeting each Wednesday and those PB&J sandwiches with milk.

Photo by June Landrum
Photo by June Landrum

Donations may be made to Marilyn Cook so she may continue her missionary work in South Africa. Her 5013C agent in the USA is Brian and Lois Lund, Mission to South Africa, PO Box 50063, Casper, WY  82605.

Photo Copy ©  2015 

Photo by June Landrum
Photo by June Landrum

Photo by June Landrum

Africa South Africa

Making Beer in a Cardboard House

“They want you to see how they live and that they are making it despite all the odds,” the tour director said as he took us on a visit to see creative, successful small businesses in Cape Town, South Africa.

Two ladies from the Xhosa tribe in South Africa, faces whitened with calamine lotion, invited us into their home where they were making beer in old oil drums and selling the home brew by the gallon to anyone who would buy it. Turns out, 12 men sitting outside their house did drink the custom brew and they drank and drank and drank as they passed the bucket and each one took a huge sip until they passed out.

Then our tour group was invited to have a seat inside the 15×15 foot house for a visit. I sat on a wooden bench near the door and leaned back to relax on the wall. And when I did, I almost fell through the house. It was then that I realized the house walls were made of cardboard. And as I looked around, I saw the roof was plastic and the floor was dirt. As we visited, the 2 ladies offered all of us a gallon bucket full of beer to sip on and all agreed the home brew was good.

Several doors down, we visited a sheep-head barbecue business, where the split heads were cooked open butterfly-like on an old oil drum and customers loved them. The fire and home was made from scraps of wood obtained anywhere possible and the sheep heads were obtained free from the local meat plant. From these heads, the family was making it.

We met a man selling souvenirs from his street stand and a lady selling fruit inside her concrete block store, which was built to provide permanent shops for these businesses. But there were more “temporary” shops than permanent ones.

The final visit was with the medicine man and, as I entered his home, I couldn’t see a thing, including the medicine man. But when I took a flash photo, I got a picture of a wooly haired cave man-type person in a fur cap with all of his potions, animal parts and furs stuffing the room almost to capacity. It was a grand, heart-warming tour of people making it in the Langa Township slums of Cape Town, South Africa.

Africa South Africa Togo

The Baboon Picnic Lunch

Meeting a former US Ambassador to Togo and his wife on a Regent Seven Seas Cruise turned out to be a major ambush. While stationed at the US Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, they told of an Embassy employee who had a “food’ experience.

The grandmother employee, her husband and 2 grandchildren decided to go to Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa for a noon picnic. They all agreed on fried chicken and all the trimming except the grandmother wanted to make her home-made potato salad.

They arrived on the mountain, spread the blanket, put out the food, soft drinks, and sat down to eat. While eating their first bite of food, they noticed baboons surrounding them and the baboons showed their teeth and screamed and waved their arms in the air. The 4 were so scared they ran to the car, locked the doors and rolled up the windows for protection.

So they sat in the car and watched the baboons eat their picnic. First, they ate all the fried chicken and moved to the next dish which was the grandmother’s homemade prize-winning potato salad. But after one bite, they spit it out. And, the grandmother screamed “they won’t eat it, they don’t like it!”

The baboons then ate the beans and they liked them and licked the bowl clean. They did the same with the Cole Slaw. All that was left was the potato salad and finally they ate it all. The grandmother was so happy now that even baboons like her potato salad.

But the final treat of the picnic was washing it all down, so each baboon grabbed a soft drink, popped the tab and chug-a-lugged it all down. Even though the family was robbed of their picnic, the grandmother was so happy even baboons love her potato salad.