UPDATED: A portion of her story appears below.
The funeral service for Mary Sala Butler will be on Saturday, August 4 at 1:00 pm at Cedar Hill Chuch, around 15 miles south of Counselor Post. Visit Mary’s online memorial to sign the guestbook, to post a memory, to share a condolence, and to give a tribute. Once an official obituary is finalized, it will be posted here.
Mary, who was among the first to come to faith in Christ at the Grace Brethren Navajo Mission in Counselor, N.M., was the wife of Tully Butler, pastor of Cedar Hill Church, and mother of Daron Butler, who serves on staff at Grace Church, Wooster, Ohio.
Mary Sala Butler was born August 18, 1943, in Counselor, New Mexico, she was the daughter of the late Mariano Ortero and Jesse Sala
Mary was the middle child of Jesse Sala. Mary’s older sister, Nellie Sala preceded her in death. Her younger brother, Peter Sala is surviving.
[The following is adapted from the October 1964 issue of the Forgotten Navajo newsletter–thanks to Martha Cook, longtime friend of the family]
Mary lived with her grandfather and spent much of her time herding sheep. Although her grandfather was uneducated, he was wise in many ways. “I want you to be a good girl,” he told her many times. Her grandpa emphatically reiterated, “I do not want you to go to the government school (here near the reservation) where the girls come home feeling so smart and bold. I want you to stay here with me and learn to be a good Navajo woman.”
One day a missionary came to visit her old grandfather. The missionary made friends with the old man and asked him to allow Mary, his little granddaughter, to attend the Brethren Navajo Mission Boarding School.
At the school, Mary not only learned her lessons well, but she also made her commitment to follow Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. Early in life, she showed a quiet determination to live for Christ and in time Mary decided to be baptized. Reverend Evan Adams, a non-Navajo was the superintendent of the Mission; he baptized Mary.
Upon graduating from eighth grade, Mary’s family expected her to return to her hogan home and help the family. After all, very few Navajo people ever graduate from eighth grade. Her education felt complete, especially for a Navajo girl.
But Mary’s quiet determination emerged. She had a real thirst for knowledge. So she enrolled in the Intermountain Indian School in Brigham City, Utah. Many Navajo students rode buses from Arizona and New Mexico to attend school at Intermountain where they learned English and a trade. Intermountain was a career center set up by the US Government to educate Navajo youth.
Now confronted with a sudden barrage of luxuries, pleasures, and temptations from the outside world, Mary became confused and troubled. To meet her need, the Lord sent a non-Navajo friend, the Reverend James Cook, who taught evangelical Bible classes near the school at their house in Brigham City, Utah.
Mary was strengthened in her faith. She took courage and stood firm. Bravely she battled the doubtful pastimes which surrounded her and Mary became an assistant to the busy Bible teacher. James Cook was grateful for her help.
Although things away from home seemed to settle down, a great challenge awaited Mary back at home. She would face a critical crossroads in her life. [More to come] — from never-gone.com