Listen, Learn & Love Hosted by Richard Ostler
Summary: Welcome to our podcast! My name is Richard Ostler (twitter: @papaostler) and am a native of Salt Lake City. I have degrees from the University of Utah and Brigham Young University (business). I married my best friend and eternal companion Sheila Juergens of Houston, Texas in 1990 and we are the parents of six children and two grandchildren and live near Cottonwood High School in Salt Lake City. I believe in and am deeply committed to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and want it to work for a wider group. The name ‘Papa Ostler’ resulting from being introduced to Twitter by my High School age son Matt in 2010. I wanted the high school age youth to know I wasn’t their age as I interacted with them … hence the name Papa Ostler. I served as a YSA Bishop in the West Valley City/Magna area of Salt Lake (released in 2016) and met some of the finest people I will ever know. In addition to meeting with wonderful active members of my Ward, I reached out and connected via social media (mostly via the private messaging features of FB and Twitter) with many of our inactive members and their non-member friends. Over time, many felt comfortable meeting with me and sharing their stories. Through hundreds of interviews and ‘listening to understand’, I was able to ‘see’ the church from the eyes of those on the outside. Many feel the church is their ‘spiritual home’ but feel uncomfortable attending for a variety of reasons such as work-in-progress testimonies, concerns about church history, feeling unworthy because of past or current sin, don't fit the cultural mold, role of women, are LGBTQ and/or feel God's LGBTQ childen should be more welcomed in our congregations, etc. This podcast is designed to 'Have a Conversation' about some of the more complicated issues in our church to help all of us 'listen, learn and love' so we can minister in a more effective way to all of Heavenly Father’s children. Most podcasts will be from our LDS LGBTQ friends to give them voice so we can better understand their road, touch their cross, learn from them, and minister to them as directed by President M. Russell Ballard when he said 'Mormon leaders, along with the rank and file, need to listen to and understand what LGBT members are feeling and experiencing (Nov 2017 BYU Devotional).' Some podcasts will be from LGBTQ allies sharing their experiences and how to be helpful. Other podcasts will be from guests talking about other complicated topics such as mental health, returning from a mission early, overcoming sin, and faith challenges. Thank you for joining us. You can't donate to this podcast. There are no sponsors. But you can leave a review/rate the podcast on the platform you are listening. With love, Richard 'Papa' Ostler ❤ email@example.com
My brother David Ostler joins us to talk about this new book ‘Bridges: Ministering to Those Who Question’ (available at Deseret Book, Gregg Kofford Books and Amazon). Dave shares why her wrote the book, findings, implications and what we can do differently. Please see Dave’s page at https://www.bridgeslds.com/. Dave shares how members who question need three key things: 1) Trust 2) Belonging and 3) Meaning. This book (currently #1 in Mormonism at Amazon) gives better pastoral tools for parents and local leaders to meet the spiritual needs of their members with honest questions. This book also helps those with questions and desire to stay members of our Church. I encourage everyone to read his book (search ‘David Ostler’) at Deseret Book, Amazon or Kofford Books and share it with family members and local leaders. Thank you Dave for being on the podcast and helping our Church better minister to our members who have sincere questions.
My friends Marsha and Aiden Aizumi share their 20 year journey with Aiden being a transgender man. It is a beautiful love story of learning, growing, listening and now sharing their story. Marsha and Aiden (who are not LDS) spoke at the CCEJ interfaith breakfast in 2018 that was sponsored by President and Sister Fersch (Stake President of the Long Beach East Stake). It was here the Fersch’s first heard the Aizumi’s story. President and Sister Fersch were so moved that they invited them to speak to the leadership of their Stake to help better meet the needs of the Stake’s LGBTQ members. This is a great podcast to better understand and support our transgender friends and the unique road this walk as we keep our families together. Marsha and Aiden received great support from PFLAG (https://pflag.org/) and wrote a book called “Two Spirits, One Heart’ https://www.amazon.com/Two-Spirits-One-Heart-Transgender/dp/1936833182/ref=asc_df_1936833182 Thanks for being on the podcast Aiden and Marsha. You two are awesome. It is a beautiful love story of how we better love and support each other.
My friend Sister Alyssa Edwards joins us to talk about issues facing our High School LDS members and her deep testimony of our Restored Church. Alyssa shares her journey as an early release missionary (which gives her added skills to connect with her students), discussions with her students about LGBTQ, role of women, overcoming sin and faith crisis. Alyssa gives wonderful insights in how to meet these students where they are and point them towards the hope and healing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To show she is safe for her LGBTQ students (and really all her students) to open up if needed, she has a copy of J. Kirk Richard’s painting ‘Jesus Said Love Everyone’ hanging in her office. This painting was originally commissioned by our family friend Allison Dayton as a Christmas gift for her gay son Jake. Thanks for being on the podcast Alyssa. You are awesome. Thanks for sharing your voice and all you are doing to bring the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ into the lives of others
Elder Callister joins us to talk about his book ‘A Case For The Book of Mormon’. See: https://deseretbook.com/p/a-case-for-the-book-of-mormon?variant_id=171322-hardcover. Elder Callister shares wonderful insights about the truthfulness of this book, answers to critics and the restored doctrine it teaches. I’m grateful to my wife Sheila who gave me a copy of the book which I enjoyed reading. This book is a key part of my testimony of the truthfulness of our Restored Church, the Prophet Joseph Smith and its ability to bring me to Christ. Thank you Elder Callister for being on the podcast and your decades of ministry to bring people to Christ through our Restored Church.
My longtime friend Ryan Kelly (active LDS, married, mid-30’s) shares the story of receiving deep promptings following Elder Cook’s Oct 2011 talk about those who died in the Titanic (https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2011/10/the-songs-they-could-not-sing?lang=eng) to find and then tell the story of his great-uncle Jerry Kelly who died in World War II age 20. Jerry (who was Senior Class President at Granite High in 1942) left no posterity to share his story. Ryan accepted this ‘calling’ and has spent hundreds of hours piecing together Jerry’s story which was clearly led by Jerry on the other side of the veil. It is a deeply spiritual story. Jerry’s story was published in this Ensign article https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2015/02/young-adults/loving-those-who-have-gone-before-us?lang=eng and is part of this book published by Ken Evans who is the son of Don Evans one of Jerry’s fellow LDS pilots. This remarkable book can be found at https://www.amazon.com/MISSING-World-Friendships-Courage-Survival/dp/1732370206. Thank you Ryan for bring Jerry’s story to life. It’s almost like he was there as we recorded the podcast. Thanks for your example of the importance of Temple and Family History and the resulting blessings in our lives as our hearts turn to those who have left.
My friend Scott Osmond bravely shares his story as a gay Latter-day Saint. Scott, who lives in Long Beach and has his own financial systems consulting business, shares growing up as a gay Latter-day Saint and staying active until his early 30’s. It was a difficult road and Scott courageously did the best he could. For the last 18 years, Scott has not been active in the Church until his Stake President Emerson Fersch and his Bishop Jeff Perry knocked on his door one Sunday morning in January 2019. Scott shares how President Fersch wanted to hear his full story including the pain of being gay and LDS. President Fersch invited Scott to speak in the Long Beach East Stake Conference in June 2019 and share his story as a gay Latter-day Saint. Scott and another gay member of the Stake, Michael Secrist, have conducted leadership trainings and also started LGBTQ FHE and LGBTQ Allies night. This is all part of President Fersch’s vision to create ‘Zion’ in his Stake. Thank you to Jonna Feeman Comstock who connected me with your story and many others who love and support Scott. You are a great man, Scott. It was an honor to hear your story. Thanks for being alive. Thanks for keeping the door open that maybe there is a place for you in our Church and that your voice is needed to help us become the Body of Christ we need to become. You are one of my heroes.
My friend Trey shares his story as a gay Latter-day Saint. We start with growing up in San Diego and coming out to his family (good experience), church leaders and friends. Like all my LGBTQ friends, it’s a difficult road. Trey shares going to BYU Idaho and coming out to his five roommates (good experience and they sincerely wanted to understand Trey’s experience). Trey is transferring to the University of Utah. Trey shares thoughts on ending stereotypes about our LGBTQ friends. Trey shares his belief in the Church, positive experience at EFY, his desire to stay close to God and also to find a husband to share his life with. Thanks Trey for sharing your journey. You are a good man with a wonderful life ahead of you.
My friend Shelby Hintze shares her insights into a number of topics including being disabled, how to better value women’s voices at church, what she tried to accomplish as a YSA RS President and her role as a producer at KSL (Doug Wright show at 9 am Sunday). There are so many incredible nuggets of ‘Shelby Wisdom’ shared to help us better meet the needs of all of God’s children. I encourage everyone to listen to the podcast and connect with Shelby on Twitter @ShelbyHintze. Thanks for being on the podcast Shelby. You are awesome.
My friend Luke Warnock bravely shares his journey of coming to terms with his sexual orientation during his time at Corner Canyon (High School in Salt Lake City area) while serving as SBO President and a starting member of the State Championship Basketball team. Luke shares coming out to close friends, his family and eventually broadly at Corner Canyon. It’s a remarkable and courageous story. Luke talks about the great support he is receiving from the Corner Canyon community and his hopes for the future including becoming a therapist so he can help people. Luke first shared his story on Jill Hazard Rowe’s podcast called Human Stories (see https://www.spreaker.com/show/human-stories-with-jill-hazard-rowe). Check out this great podcast. Luke can be found on IG at luke.war Thank you Luke for the courage to share your story. You are a great man. Your story will help so many as you give vision and hope. You have a great life ahead of you. Thanks for being on the podcast.
Our family friend Carlos Barbagelata shares his journey moving forward in life as a gay man. Carlos came out at age 14 to friends and family and has received amazing support. Carlos went on to the University of Utah where he earned an undergraduate degree and a Master’s degree (Health Promotion and Education). He now works for IHC. Carlos also was at concert during the Las Vegas mass shooting and shares that horrible experience. You are a good man and friend, Carlos. Thanks for having the courage to share some of your journey. Our society is better off with you in it and all the contributions you are making. Thanks for being on the podcast.
My friend Thomas McConkie shares his story stepping away from the LDS faith for about 20 years (age 13 – 32) and then returning. While away Thomas lived around the world and developed a deep spirituality as he connected with and learned from the good in other faiths. About 7 years ago while in Salt Lake City, Thomas shares spiritual experiences that led him back into the LDS faith. Thomas started a nonprofit called Lower Lights to heal and bring hope to others. Check out: https://lowerlightsslc.org/ On a personal note when I went through my mini-faith crisis while serving as a YSA Bishop, Thomas’ book was one of the three books that I read that helped get through that time (which I’m now glad occurred) helping me to stay a committed member of the Church. Thomas’ book is at: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Wirthlin-McConkie/e/B0164TIIJK%3Fref Thank you for being on the podcast, Thomas. You have a unique and beautiful life ministry. Bringing all your experiences, gifts and insights to bring hope and healing to others.
My friend Rebecca Buffington (living in the Atlanta area) shares her journey in a ‘mixed-faith marriage’. Jeb (a RM) and Rebecca were married 20 years ago in the Mount Timpanogos Temple. 5 years into their marriage with two young children, Jeb told Rebecca he no longer believed. They have been on this road for the last 15 years. Jed still doesn’t believe. Rebecca shares valuable lessons to keep their marriage together based on personal revelation and common goals. The principals she teaches and the insights she’s learned help marriages grow stronger. It’s not been easy. But it is a beautiful love story. I felt such a great spirit as Rebecca shared her story and love of her family. This is a podcast that teaches principals to keep us together even in our differences. Thank you Rebecca for being on the podcast. You and your family are awesome.
My friends Madi (bisexual) and Miles (straight) share their journey as active Latter-day Saints. They talk about their journey to love and accept all of Heavenly Father’s children as taught by Christ. Madi also bravely shares her journey as a bisexual Latter-day Saint coming out to her husband during the first year of their marriage and how this has brought them closer together. It’s a deeply touching story of honesty, vulnerability, and real communication resulting in a healthy marriage with a strong foundation. This podcast will be very helpful for couples where one member is LGBTQ and for all of us to better understand couples walking this road. Thanks you Madi and Miles for sharing your story. I will never forget the visual of your holding hands and lovingly looking into each other’s eyes during the podcast. You two are living a beautiful love story and have a great life ahead of you! On behalf of all of our listeners, thank you for sharing your story.
Dale and Unhui Larsen, who have been married 42 years, have 4 children and 11 grandchildren, share their story. It is a love story. It’s a story of personal revelation. It starts with Dale and Unhui falling in love, starting a family and then Dale shares how he almost left that marriage and two little kids but receiving personal revelation to stay. Over the next 25 years, Dale and Unhui raised their family and served in the Church. When Dale’s Stake Presidency assignment ended in 2009 after the normal length of service, he felt impressed to address and resolve being gay. They jointly worked to receive ‘more light and understanding’ and share this journey. Many of their answers were received by personal revelation and Temple attendance. They also share helpful interactions with their Stake President and a brief visit with Elder Cook of the Twelve. In 2012 Dale bravely came out as gay to his Stake as part of a 10 Stake LGBTQ training. Unhui shares personal revelation into why they are walking this road together as part of Heavenly Father’s plan. Dale shares how the ‘last piece of shame’ left him with the personal revelation he recently received on why his is Gay and how this is part of Heavenly Father’s plan. You can read more of Dale’s story at https://www.facebook.com/dale.larsen.12/posts/2343976465633848 and a tribute to his good wife Unhui at https://www.facebook.com/dale.larsen.12/posts/2344890708875757 This is a deeply moving and helpful podcast for everyone. Thank you Dale and Unhui for sharing your journey. You two are awesome. Your story will give hope and helpful insights for our LGBTQ members and those who want to support, love and see their goodness.
My friends Tekulve and James share their journey as Black Latter-day Saints. We start with Tekulve sharing his recent experience as a Payson Temple worker where we was released (and then reinstated) because of his hair style (locs). Tekulve and James felt impressed to share this story as an important ‘inflection point’ where we can look inward as a people to see how we can do better with this FB post that went viral https://www.facebook.com/james.c.jones.31/posts/10105074268611999. They share how they process our prior teachings about Black Latter-day Saints and their feelings of racism and imperfections of Church Leaders. They can talk about these subjects as deeply faithful and committed Latter-day Saints as they developed the ability to see the different between doctrine and culture and create space/perspective for imperfect leaders. They also have great spiritual maturity because of the need to develop a deep personal relationship with Heavenly Father and not always rely on the Institutional Church to provides answers to every question. I encourage everyone to listen to this podcast to better understand our Black Latter-day Saints. The difficult road they walk and their unique gifts and contributions. Thank you Tekulve and James for being on the podcast. You two are great men, wonderful disciples, and needed members in our Restored Church. We need you to become the Church God wants us to become.