10  G E N E R . S TA R K enough to be heated by a steel-plate stove vented out through the earthen roof. “And you, wet traveler, we must dry your clothes. Come in by the stove,” Adolf stuffed extra wood into the stove and the added heat crept into me. Praise God I had no lasting effects from my cold dunk in the Ottertail River. The Kruegers’ austere hospi- tality probably saved my life just as surely as the burned bridge posts saved me in the river. “I crossed upstream from the old bridge. That’s where it seemed I had been told to cross.” “You need to get right up by the shore of Rush Lake, where there is shallow water. There are some deep channels just down- stream from the lake,” Adolf said, shaking his head. Adolf then smiled and reached for another log to shove into the stove and said, “Looks like you got your Sunday morning bath.” The extra heat hit me like a wave when he opened the door on the stove. It penetrated my whole body—just like the realiza- tion that I had crossed in the wrong spot, yet somehow survived with little more consequence than a cold bath. As he gripped a branch with calloused hands to shut the door on the stove, I read volumes in the dark, soil-stained creases in his hands; Adolf had crossed his share of rivers as well. “You must be pretty determined to conduct that church ser- vice,” Mrs. Krueger commented as I got onto my wagon to con- tinue the trip to the church. “Maybe we’ll venture up to one of your services some time.” “We would be honored to have you there. May God bless you in your labors.” They were two souls every bit as far from their native Germa- ny as I was. Both had come to America, just as I had. Their young, strong faces prematurely creased by sun, wind, and hardship looked after me, perhaps holding me in some awe that I didn’t deserve or perhaps shaking silent heads at my utter stupidity. Whether out of pity or respect, they did arrive at my preaching