Washington column for July 19

The Cheyenne River mission

Ellen Mustoe poses with some of her students at the Vacation Bible School at Eagle Butte, S.D., on the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation.
Ellen Mustoe poses with some of her students at the Vacation Bible School at Eagle Butte, S.D., on the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation.

On June 15-23 Ellen Mustoe and Frieda Herman, Washington residents and members of Washington Baptist Church’s congregation, traveled along with 26 others on a mission trip to Eagle Butte, S.D., on the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation. The mission has been going on for about 15 years, and Ellen has participated for 10 years, Frieda for eight.  

At least eight different churches from four states sent participants on the trip, although the project is now based at the Hamilton Baptist Church in Hamilton, Va.

The Cheyenne River Sioux are one of the currently recognized five tribes of the Great Sioux Nation. Based at the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in north-central South Dakota, 2.8 million acres set aside by Congress in 1889, the tribe suffers from extreme poverty, Ellen explained. Ziebach County, one of two counties where the reservation is located, ranked as the country’s seventh-poorest county in 1990. Data gathered through various sources suggest an undeniable connection between alcohol abuse and a higher-than-average mortality rate on the reservation.

According to the 2010 census, the reservation’s population, at about 1,300, has a median income of less than $18,000, and an unemployment rate said to be as high as 87 percent. Less than one quarter of the children who start school at age 5 will graduate from high school, Ellen Mustoe explained, and most who do graduate go to college, trade school or into the military and do not return to the reservation.

“Although Eagle Butte is only two times zones away from us,” Ellen said, “it has been likened to a third-world country.”

At Washington Baptist Church, which supports the Eagle Butte community through their annual Christmas sock and glove tree, it was decided this year that offerings made for the joint Vacation Bible School of the Washington Baptist Church and Trinity Episcopal Church would go to the Eagle Butte community, split evenly between St. John’s Episcopal Church and First Baptist Church of Eagle Butte. “The children of our Bible school also colored delightful book bags in which were placed school supplies and a child’s edition of the Bible, which will be sent as well,” said Washington Baptist’s Rev. Phil Bailey.  

In Eagle Butte this year, Ellen and Frieda served on a team that conducted, with the local First Baptist Church, a Vacation Bible School for 85 children and 12 adults. Supper was provided each evening before study time, and a basketball camp brought in some 50 teenagers in Eagle Butte and another 30 in nearby Cherry Creek. Another activity they helped with, Bailey said, was the “Off the Wall,” program, a time of fellowship and Bible study that he said attracted many of the young people who used to hang out in front of an abandoned building across the street from the church.

Also assisting the team were Pastor Ben and Tiffany Farrar of First Baptist Church, and Amy and Clint Holly, local Southern Baptist missionaries serving at the Windswept Academy Christian School. where Clint is now headmaster. Anne and Ilhomi Konur from Hamilton Baptist Church started this school and will be at Washington Baptist Church on Sunday, Dec. 2, to talk about it.  Everyone from the community is invited to come.

With the more than 15 years of dedicated service of the Eagle Butte ministry, Bailey said, many positive results have occurred. One of  the young people who attended at an earlier time said he wanted “what the people who came from the Virginia churches had,” because they were so joyful and loving. His name is Ivan Uses the Knife, Bailey said, and he has now finished his first year of college and has put into print several Christian comic books that he designed and wrote.  

If you would like more information about the mission project, call the church office at Washington Baptist Church at 540-675-3336.


Rappahannock resident Jim Miller, a member of the board of governors of the U.S. Postal Service, and John Sullivan, mayor of Washington, plan a reception for Washington Postmaster Yvonne Jarrell this Friday (July 20) at the post office on Main Street from 10 to 11 a.m. There will be drinks and nibbles, so stop by and wish Yvonne well and thank her for being best postmaster ever! (Yvonne’s last day is Tuesday, July 31.)


Condolences go out to the family of Ethel Lorene Dwyer, 88, of Sperryville. Mrs. Dwyer passed away on Sunday (July 15) at her residence. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. today (Thursday, July 19) at Found and Sons, Culpeper, with Pastor Gary Utz officiating. Interment will follow in Washington Masonic Cemetery.

Angels in the outfield?

A birdie told me on my morning walk Monday that there’s going to be a coed softball game – Washington Baptist Church vs. Reynolds Memorial Baptist Church – on Saturday, Aug. 4, starting at 6 p.m. at the ball field behind the elementary school. If the time or place changes, I will have the updated information here in my column. Everyone is welcome to come and enjoy the game and fellowship.


Congratulations go out to Eric Andrew Norman for receiving his master of fine arts degree from Washington State University in May. Eric is the son of John and Nina Bailey of Washington, and grandson of Marilyn Bailey of Washington. Also, congratulations to Laura “Vasara” Akl and Stephen Joel Bailey on their wedding celebration on June 10, at Glen Garden, Fredericksburg. They reside in Alexandria; Stephen is also Marilyn Bailey’s grandson, and the son of Mr. and Mrs. Steven Bailey of Strasburg.

Keep smiling, drink plenty of liquids and try to stay cool in this heat wave we are having.