Listen, Learn & Love Hosted by Richard Ostler
Summary: 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 by best friend and eternal companion Sheila Juergens of Houston, Texas in 1990 and we are the parents of six great children and two grandchildren and live near Cottonwood High School in Salt Lake City. I believe deeply in 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 kids 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 outside of active Latter-day Saints. 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, from a deeply believing/committed Latter-day Saint, 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. Some podcasts will me 'going solo' and other podcasts will be guests helping us to better understand God's LGBTQ children as taught by President M. Russell Ballard '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).' With love, Richard 'Papa' Ostler ❤
My friend Brett Hales shares his life story of growing in Magna, serving a mission in Alaska, marrying Cindy Ulrich (37 years ago), raising 5 kids (all married with 7 grandchildren), serving as a Bishop (sharing very tender stories involving priesthood blessings), being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and serving on the Murray City Council. Brett also shares his thoughts about our LGBTQ friends and people of other faiths and seeing the goodness in everyone.
My friend David Daniels bravely shares his journey as a gay Latter-day Saint knowing he was gay in his teens, telling no one, serving a successful mission in Puerto Rico, marrying a woman which ended in divorce after 5 years, leaving the church for about 13 years and then returning in 2013 where he is an active member in good standing. It’s a brave and courageous story with a very supportive family. Thank you David for sharing your story. You are a great man with a wonderful life ahead of you!
My friend Tember Harward shares his story growing up in California in a part member family but not going to church, becoming aware of his orientation in High School and then several years with same-sex partners and not connected to any religion. Tember that shares the journey home. Deeply spiritual experiences leading to his baptism into the Church (by his father), serving a mission, becoming a Temple worker, believing he would be alone, but then falling in love with his wife Tefany and the joy of being a father. Thank you Tember for sharing your story. You are a great man with a wonderful future.
My friend Nathan Winters, a committed Latter-day Saint, shares the difficult road of being an early release missionary. Nathan has been brutally stretched with things outside of his control and has turned to his Heavenly Father and the healing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It’s a remarkable story of courage, faith and navigating complicated territory. Nathan has a very supportive family and wonderful Mission President. I believe the unique lessons that Nathan is learning will help him become the man, future husband and father, and disciple of Christ that God needs him to become. He will have a unique ability to reach and help others. Nathan shares great insights on how to minister to our early release missionaries on the podcast and here: https://medium.com/@najwinters/what-early-returned-missionaries-want-you-to-know-b9ef9ef80e83 and his homecoming talk here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/6ixq132vfscemh9/Nathan%27s%20Homecoming%20Talk.pdf?dl=0 Thanks for sharing some of your journey, Nathan. You are a great man with a wonderful future.
Episode 126: Kyle Manwaring, Gay Latter-day Saint, Recent BYU Graduation, RM by Richard Ostler
My friend Erik Kokkonen shares his journey growing up in Hawaii, knowing he was gay in his teens, coming out to parents and his Bishop, serving a mission in New York, Med School in Hawaii, Residency in Springfield Illinois (with a wonderful Stake President) and then starting his dermatology practice in Salem Oregon. Erik has never stepped away from the Church (it has been very difficult at times) and has never (until recently) talked openly about being gay. However, that all changed in his Oregon Ward as Erik listened to Brother Eric Huntsman’s BYU Devotional (Aug 2018 https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/eric-d-huntsman_hard-sayings-and-safe-spaces-making-room-for-both-struggle-and-faith/) and heard kind things said about LGBTQ people and read Tom Christofferson’s book https://deseretbook.com/p/cd-that-we-may-be-one?gclid=&variant_id=155907-paperback. Erik sent the talk to his Bishop who ended up using it as an EQ lesson. Erik then came out to his whole EQ during the lesson and felt love, understanding and support. Erik later come out to his whole ward during a sacrament meeting talk and has recently been called into the Elder Quorum Presidency. Thank you Erik for sharing your story. You are a great man, doing wonderful things and are changing hearts. Honored to have you on the podcast.
My friends Adam and Kelly Sandberg share their story of difficult home lives growing up, meeting each other in Arizona when Kelly was single with 3 kids and in the adult entertainment industry and Adam in a heavy metal rock band, falling in love and getting married. The odds were stacked against them, but they have been married for 22 years and are doing great. About 16 years ago, they went to visit the Christmas lights on the Mesa Temple Grounds and Adam describes a deeply spiritual experience which opened the door for their baptism into the Church. They have been sealed as a family and are active Temple attenders. They talk about their love for the church but also how the culture at times has been difficult for them. Adam and Kelly share the stories behind several of their tattoos. They also talk about their love of their LGBTQ friends and all they do to love, sit with, be friends and support them and how that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They talk about the church service project one of their daughters did for a drag queen show and talk about these good children or God. I was deeply touched having you two on the podcast. You are a great couple doing wonderful things. Honored to call your friends.
My friend Nathan Smith shares his journey growing up in Texas, learning all the messy church history in his youth, working with FairMormon to answer questions, serving in the California Fresno Mission with Cathy and Larry Gelwix as his Mission President, not really ‘fitting in’ during his successful mission where he reached people no one else could reach, becoming less active because of ‘social alienation,’ and now starting to attend Church again. Nathan wrote this post about his mission. It is helpful for me to read a post like this to help me understand how to help unique and needed members in our church feel they belong. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10215415221908778&id=1084156888 Nathan is a unique and needed member of the Church. He has a deep understanding of our doctrine, Christ, and world religions. His blog can be found at: nathansmithbooks.com and his twitter is at: @NateSmithSNF. One of the most helpful parts of the podcast is his great relationship with his Mission President Larry Gelwix. Instead of requiring Nathan to become a ‘round peg’ so he could fit in, he embraced and valued Nathan’s ‘square peg’ Christlike attributes and gifts and used them to personally be teachable and help others come unto Christ. I hope all of us can become the kind of leaders the Gelwix’s are for some many of our members. Thanks for sharing your journey, Nathan. You are a great man with a wonderful future. I hope you find your way to stay in our Church. We need you. You can help us become the Body of Christ that we need to become.
My friend Sarah Kemp shares her journey coming out gay on her mission to her companion and Mission President (good experience), graduating from BYU, finishing medical school in Michigan, starting residency in Texas as part of her path to become a trauma surgeon. Sarah shares her personal revelation that her mortal mission as a gay child of Heavenly Parents is not to get married, and have children but use her divine gifts and attributes to bless others through her medical career. It is not plan B because getting married didn’t work out. It is plan A. She also shares her journey as a gay Latter-day Saint and how her love for the temple and the peace that she finds there help to keep her a fully believing and committed member. Thank you Sarah for sharing some of your journey. You are awesome and have a great life ahead of you. Honored to have met you!
My friends Eric and Heidi Swapp bravely share the story of their dear son Cory who died by suicide at age 16 in 2015. Following his suicide, Heidi has stepped into the space of talking about suicide in an open, authentic and helpful way so that we can do better. Eric and Heidi have beautiful insights into how to help others. However, it is a brutal road to be parents of a child who has died this way as mortality will never be the same. Turning to our Heavenly Father and our Savior, they share deep spiritual experiences that have given them hope, vision, perspective and healing. They are able to take these experience to bring hope and healing to many others. In their pain, they have an ability to help others. You two are awesome, have a wonderful family and are helping so many. Thanks for being on the podcast. More about Cory can be found at https://www.heidiswapp.com/my-heart-corys-story/. Heidi can be reached at: https://www.heidiswapp.com/. Heidi’s podcast is at: http://elevatepodcasting.com/light_the_fight/
My dear friend Lee Liston shares his journey serving a mission in the Philippines, returning home and being in our YSA Ward, his journey as a little person including being on the TLC TV show My Little Life (https://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/my-little-life/), commitment to personal fitness (/www.instagram.com/lee_liston), and why staying active in the Church has been difficult. I put on my former ‘YSA Bishop Hat’ and gently offer up some suggestions to Lee to consider to possibly return to full activity and some thoughts about his future. It’s a vulnerable, honest and real podcast. Lee is also part of this FB post about labels that was picked up by LDS Living for a story https://www.facebook.com/richard.ostler.5/posts/10214214874518955 Thank you Lee for the chance to catch up and for sharing some of your journey. You are a great man and friend. Love you, brother.
My friend Vance Bryce shares his journey growing up in The Gila Valley Arizona, serving a mission, opening up to his Mission President about being a victim of sexual abuse, coming out as gay which Vance teaches is not a result of his abuse, finishing college at BYU, staying active LDS, wonderful family, and great insights into life as a gay Latter-day Saint. Vance has taught me to much about the road our LGBTQ friends walk, how to lift their burdens, and great insights into the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Vance shares some of his favorite scriptures included D&C 93:1 and Isaiah 56. Thanks for being on the podcast Vance. You are a great man and friend.
My dear friend Bob Verstege (in his early 60’s) shares his remarkable life story joining the church at age 14, serving a mission in Chicago, breaking off an engagement to a women knowing he is gay, finding his husband Jay (also a RM and a world renowned cardiologist) and spending 25 years together. Bob also shared the tender story of Jay dying from Alzheimer’s, caring for him all those years, being at his bedside during his passing and their close relationship with Heavenly Father. It’s a beautiful love story. After Jay died, Bob continued to feel impressions from Heavenly Father including to return to the Church where he is a member in good standing and serves as the Ward Clerk in his ward. Bob wanted to add a few comments below that he had run out of time to say. "Strength lies in differences, not in similarities." Stephen R. Covey I want listeners to know this is my journey and path I took, it isn't a path or an example that people should emulate or feel that I'm dictating to others. I appreciate and respect everyone's journey. Though I'm a big advocate for the Church and the blessings that come along with it, I do realize there's paths that are joyful, satisfying and spiritual without being a member. I'm grateful for anyone that receives love, joy and peace through other avenues. Another point I would like to make is when you listen to the podcast, I would have you focus on the teachings of Christ, because that is who I tried to emulate and the others who were involved tried to emulate Christ's teachings as well - we tried to show empathy, charity and love for each other. One of my favorite scriptures is 2 Nephi 32:3. Lastly, I brief recognition for some others; my former bishop in Linwood, Bishop Darrin Bird, a great servant of the Lord. The wonderful brothers and sisters of Fountain Hills and Linwood wards, who support and love me. Then a special appreciation for two cherished friends, Brother Jorgensen and Brother Dean. They became my first friends as I return to the church. Each of them loved, supported and encouraged me. Even though they had no stewardship over me, and they personally don't understand my story, they allowed me to share with them without their judgement. I look at them as an example of faithful members of the church who inspire me to do better, much love to them both. "Love is the security for which children weep, the yearning of youth, the adhesive that binds marriage, and the lubricant that prevents devastating friction in the home; it is the peace of old age, the sunlight of hope shining through death...Love, like faith, is a gift of God. It is also the most enduring and most powerful virtue." Gordon B. Hinckley Thank you Bob for sharing your journey. It brings honor to your good husband Jay and helps us better understand a loving Heavenly Father.
My friends Eric and Liz Macdonald share their family story of their son Matthew coming out as gay following his mission in Mexico, navigating that road with he was at BYU, their personal revelation that Eric and Liz received as they stayed close to Heavenly Father to get direction on how to love and support their son. It is a very tender and powerful story. They also talk about the difficult road our LDS LGBTQ members and principals that apply if one steps away to keep the family circle together. They also talk about their positive interactions with their ward, local leaders and a visiting authority during a recent Stake Conference. I encourage parents and local leaders to listen to their story to get better ministerial insights. Thanks for sharing your story. You are all awesome.
My friends Bryce and Sara Cook share their journey of having their oldest son Trevor come out as gay in 2011, learning all they could about how to parent a gay child, helping to organize All Arizona (www.allarizona.org) to provide support for families with LGBTQ members and broadly sharing their story to help others. Later their youngest son Tanner also came out as gay. Bryce and Sara share their deep spiritual journey to understand how best to support their sons and keep the family together. Bryce also talks about spiritual prompting to write an essay on his thoughts and observations on our LGBTQ members (www.mormonlgbtquestions.com). It’s a deeply touching story. Bryce and Sara were some of the earliest Latter-Day Saints I connected with as I wanted to learn more about this space and felt listening to parents stories would help me. Thank you Bryce and Sara for sharing your journey with your wonderful gay sons Trevor and Tanner.