CH A P T E R 1 Der Fluss—The River “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.” (Isaiah 43:2) I had never wondered before if I would see another sum- mer. Yet on that day the question crossed my mind. Even as spring seemed to approach, winter had descended again. As I began my solitary journey, the dark, bare arms of the oaks lifted their supplications to the brooding skies, and the bronze prairie grass bowed to the endless, ever-deepening cold wind. The full impact of where I was, and how isolated my existence had become, hit me on that day in 1875. Northwestern Min- nesota was a lonely and desolate place. There were no roads to encourage my travel as I made my own trails through tall grass and weaved paths through the trees. My only lifeline lay beside me on the wagon seat, undulating to the rhythmic plod- ding of my horse. The Word lay upon my wagon seat; its impact had brought me here. The words of God traveled with me into the wilderness of a seemingly godless and unending winter. Yet I knew that someday the steel tracks of the railroads would stretch their arms to embrace this land. Someday the bells of