A large amount of material on Papua New Guinea crosses my desk, and some of the most lurid and unreliable stories are published by people who describe themselves as “missionaries”. Here’s one - KJ
Branderhorst, 19, has returned home to the USA from a missionary trip to Papua New Guinea where she spread God's word to the Pukari tribe.
After attending high school in Costa Rica, Branderhorst spent five months at a disciple training school in Australia. She had hoped to do missionary work in Indonesia, a largely Muslim country.
"Papua New Guinea wasn't exactly in my top 10 places to go," she said. "I was going to the most uncivilised country in the world." All she had were God's word, a backpack, two sets of clothes and a mosquito net, she said.
Once she landed in PNG, Branderhorst was driven through the jungle until the road ended and there was just ocean. There was a man in a bamboo boat who would take her to the Pukari tribe.
There had just been a cyclone off Australia and the waves were high, she said, making the boat ride very bumpy. "The driver, who supposedly did this all the time, was praying in tongues," she said.
When the boat descended on where the tribe was, hundreds of people were on shore waving palm branches, welcoming the missionaries. The last missionaries to visit the Pukari tribe in the 1800s were speared and eaten, she said.
One day, a man with a spear came running up to her very fast and stopped right in front of her. "All of these thoughts came to my mind. I was thinking I am going to become a martyr; ... my parents are never going to know I am dead because I am in the middle of nowhere.
"I looked behind me and the whole village was laughing. It was a joke."
The Pukari people's diet consists of wood and leaves. "That's what they ate every day, and that's what we had to eat every day," she said.
The closest hospital is a three-day walk in the jungle. There's no sanitation, no toilets, she said. It was difficult for Branderhorst to communicate because the Pukari speak 800 different tribal languages and Branderhorst's group only had one translator.
"When I prayed in faith, I saw God work at a whole new level," she said. Branderhorst said she cried when a 70-year-old tribal woman came up to her and thanked her for sharing about Jesus.
Branderhorst didn't just come into doing missionary work. Her parents, Mark and Connie Branderhorst, were missionaries in Latin America. Mark Branderhorst said he didn't know where his daughter was going to do her work.
"I had to look it up on a map, and I did a little research," he said. Branderhorst said he is proud of his daughter for her missionary work. "She has not shied away from His will in her life," he said.
Caitlin Branderhorst said she knows that God is passionate and missionary work is what he wants her to do. "Half the world doesn't know him," she said. "That's our job."
Source: Visalia Times-Delta