The day, like any other day, began with blue sky and the sounds of Africa. However, today was to be the official opening of the new nursery centre at St Pauls. The school was proud of this superb facility and wanted to name it in memory of my Mum, Muriel Shelbourne. She had been a missionary in Africa and a primary teacher but had passed away in 2011.
Rosey and I felt privileged to take part in the ceremony with our friend and colleague Canon Ephraim Gensi. Parents and guardians had all been invited to come along.
During the morning tables and chairs were moved into place, food and drinks arrived, and sound equipment was set up. When things got started, the brass band led the procession, children danced and sang, speeches were given. It was wonderful, a joyous celebration of something good in the heart of a community that has seen so many difficult times. We were invited to unveil a plaque with Ephraim, commemorating the opening of the “Muriel Centre”, a deeply personal moment for us.
A few months on I find myself reflecting on this, having just received news that our dear friend Ephraim has died.
On one hand, I feel overcome with sadness: Ephraim was a person who filled the space around him with joy, hope, a deep faith and an eternally optimistic view of the world.
On the other hand I think of the many wonderful times we have shared, of which the opening of the Muriel Centre was one of the most memorable.