Wait for God to Notice is author Sari (rhymes with Mary) Fordman’s poignant love story about her family and a land far away—Uganda. Her parents, Kaarina (who is Finnish) and Gary (American) Fordham, are Seventh Day Adventist missionaries sent to Africa for six years during the terror reign of Idi Amin. They bring along their two daughters, Sonja, 5, and Sari, 2.
Twenty years later, while perusing letters written by her now-deceased mother, an avid letter-writer, a grown up Fordham reflects on her childhood spent in Uganda, and how her parents—and by osmosis, their daughters—adapted to the unfamiliar environment. Fordham knits together a heartrending story of familial connections that root her to her heritage from both parents and extended family in Finland and America; and passion that bonds her to Ugandan people, lifestyle, wildlife, and fantastic landscape of perpetual green. There was life all around, and Fordham relishes in fascination at what she saw right outside the door in the constant sweltering heat: a real jungle, lush and thriving, waiting to be explored by adventuresome, fearless children. There were monkeys, civet cats, mongooses, black mambas, and the persistent driver ants.
Swarms of carnivorous driver ants invaded their little “home on the hill” on their first night in Bugema, Uganda. Driver ants “can eat through a trapped hen, leaving bones as clean as porcelain,” explained Fordham. Yet her parents observed more in wonder than fear as the six-inch-wide column streamed from their bedroom and into toddler Sari’s bedroom. That sense of fearless wonder permeates throughout the many adventures Fordham relates in her book.
Through contemplative reflection, Fordham becomes a keen observer of settings and personalities, especially that of her mother, Kaarina. Before Uganda, Kaarina considered herself as matter-of-fact, practical, confident, determined and driven. But speaking of her, Fordham says, “Ever since she arrived in Uganda, she had been overwhelmed by her incompetence. This must have surprised her.”
In spite of this, Fordham comes to see her mother as one who never flinched in the face of fearsome encounters, be they jungle creatures or the jungle guerillas of Idi Amin. She always stood her ground, protecting her own. From this, Fordham comes to see the sheer bravery and resilient competence exuded from her mother. She could handle anything tossed her way.
Fordham’s memoir reads like a beautiful melodic love poem, a river sweetly laced with the passage of time, ripe with imagery, unexpected changes, and meditative insight. Hers is a story of magical wonder in a foreign land, a sense of belonging to her family and to the shifting lands she inhabits—whether in Finland, America, or Uganda. Reading her memoir is a journey into a young girl’s life as she interprets the world around her and matures into an inquisitive young woman, full of hope, full of questions, and most importantly, full of familial love.
I didn’t want her story to end. Neither will you.