Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A Tribute to Friend Leslie

With great sadness I convey the sudden death of my good friend, Leslie Lipton. Leslie was 59 years old and an avid scuba diver. She had just completed her first dive as an instructor in West Palm, Florida and was on her way to the surface. The team saw that at 30 feet all was well. By the time Leslie reached the surface she had died. The autopsy indicated no obvious explanation for her death. It is because of Leslie that I am here in East Africa.

I met Leslie at the University of Phoenix during the doctoral program residency and we became close friends very quickly. She welcomed our family in her home in Sacramento making it possible for us to enjoy places like the Redwood National Forest, Lassen Volcanic Park, and San Francisco. After Rick died, she was a regularly scheduled weekly source of talk therapy and lavished Max and I with peaceful stays in her spa-like home once again. She is the one who encouraged me to start the My Second Year blog journaling my grief journey.

As the Lord revealed short term missions as part of that journey, and I was seeking an international experience, Leslie phoned and proclaimed, “I’m sponsoring a child in Uganda!” I immediately knew that was the place I would serve. I traveled across the ocean to meet Olivia, who has now been under Leslie’s sponsorship for six years and will continue to be sponsored by Leslie’s generous husband, Mark.

Leslie was abused in her younger years and constantly struggled to overcome the idea that people could call themselves Christ followers and still wound her so brutally. And yet, throughout this mission journey, Leslie has been my constant champion. I’m so thankful for the weekend we spent together in January when I was home when we easily picked up where we left off. Please give thanks for Leslie’s precious life and remember with me how important she was during one of my darkest hours and how instrumental she was in bringing me to Uganda.