The Official Writing Challenge
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Oh, this gives me chills, and I don't mean from the weather described, so articulately in your story, either! The blessing-in-disguise ending is just wonderful. You know how to involve your reader in the lives of your characters, for sure.

The only distraction for me (maybe for expanding later, without word limits) was introducing the unnamed sister at the beginning, then switching to the immediate families back beyond the river. But, I forgot about that when you pulled me into the rest of your story.

You have a jewel in the making, and I hope this is just the first of many chapters.
I love wagon train stories. I think you captured the reality of their experiences at that point in our history. Great surprise ending, too.
I love wagon train and moving West stories. YOu described the hardships they faced very well. I was wondering where you were going with the spring blizzard and the river. I smiled when I read the ending. It was a twist I never expected. (The obvious was hidden right in front of my eyes! I love those kind of endings.) Great job! Is this another chapter for your book? :-)
Tears of joy filled my eyes at the miraculous Icing of the Mississippi by the Almighty. But, I too, was wondering why the sister was thrown into the story in the beginning. A bit confusing, but I loved this story and especially the outcome. Good Job!
A great story of God's hand controling nature. Awesome! One point - "Chosen to go ahead of the wagon train to ensure safe passage along the way; a handful of men had the task of building bridges, scouting trails and setting up camps." The semi-colon implies you have two complete sentences joined together. A comma following way would have done the job. But maybe that was just a typo. ;) I loved your story. You captivated my interest.
What an inspiring, compelling, uplifting story! Great description, characterization, and message. I enjoyed every word of this!
What a fast paced story of the provision of God! And what a lesson to us, the bitter cold had to be endured for the miracle to happen!
What a wonderfully heartwarming story! So glad I read this! Excellent descriptions and very well told!