Listen, Learn & Love Hosted by Richard Ostler
Summary: Welcome to our podcast! My name is Richard Ostler (twitter: twitter.com/Papa_Ostler; FB: facebook.com/richard.ostler.5; IG: instagram.com/papa_ostler/) and am a native of Salt Lake City. I am the author of "Listen Learn and Love: Embracing LGBTQ Latter-day Saints at Amazon (amazon.com/dp/1462135773) and Deseret Book (deseretbook.com/p/listen-learn-and-love-embracing-lgbtq-latter-day-saints) I am the author of two recent Ensign articles on ‘How the Savior’s Healing Power Applies to Repenting from Sexual Sin’ (August 2020/YSA Digital Only) www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2020/08/young-adults/how-the-saviors-healing-power-applies-to-repenting-from-sexual-sin and ‘7 Tips for Overcoming Pornography Use’ (October, page 72) www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2020/10/young-adults/7-tips-for-overcoming-pornography-use 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 several 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 "We need to listen to and understand what our LGBT brothers and sisters are feeling and experiencing. Certainly, we must do better than we have done in the past so that all members feel they have a spiritual home where their brothers and sisters love them and where they have a place to worship and serve the Lord(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. Are podcast are indexed by category at listenlearnandlove.org/podcasts 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 *I will respond to your e-mails*
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.
My friend Megan Lagerberg bravely shares her journey with infertility. It’s a difficult road emotionally, physically, and financially. Megan shares how she and her husband Todd have navigated a road of various unsuccessful treatments and their eventual success with IVF. After 3 years of treatments, they finally had a daughter (they now have two daughters). Megan shares her journey of feeling broken, depressed and attending church while working to overcome being angry with Heavenly Father. Megan’s story can help all of us overcome difficult things that are not our fault and tell us how to move forward in faith and hope.”
My friend David Doyle calls in from the Tampa Florida area to share his story as a gay Latter-day Saint. It a beautiful and sometimes difficult story. David talks about the years before his mission, the years after his mission until age 40, and then coming out to his Ward/Stake leadership and family. David shares some of the wonderful things his Stake President has done to help LGBTQ members feel welcome. David also shares his positive interaction Elder Joaquin E. Costa (see https://nerdygaymormon.tumblr.com/post/159164583009/so-do-you-remember-the-guy-in-yesterdays-general) David is one of my new heroes for all his is doing to Come Unto Christ and navigate a very difficult road. David has very helpful insights that will give our LGBTQ members hope and help all of us better minister to our LGBTQ members. At 1:17 David has some helpful insights into Temple Recommend Question #7. Thanks for sharing your journey David. You are a great man and I’m glad to have you on the podcast.
My friend Maggie Slighte (in her early 50’s) shares some of her life story growing up having been sexually abused at a very young age. About 6 years ago, Maggie found and joined the Church which has brought her great spiritual healing. She is now has a calling as a Temple and Family History consultant in her Ward. Maggie shares her journey with ‘complex PTSD’ including the therapy she continues to receive. She also talks about doing starting to do Temple work for her abuser (who has passed away). You can read more about Maggie at sistermaggie.com and maggieslighte.com. You are awesome Maggie. You are a hero to me for surviving a brutal road and being willing to share your life experiences which helps us follow your example to heal and find hope. Thanks for being on the podcast.
My friend Kelleen Potter shares her journey of her oldest son coming out as gay at age 14 (about 8 years ago) and her third child coming out as transgender who identifies as female (about 4 years ago). Kelleen also has a son on a LDS mission and two younger daughters. Kelleen shares finding resources, therapists (including Lisa Hansen) and community with Mama Dragons. Kelleen talks about why both of her LGBT children have stepped away from the Church and why she is at peace with that decision. Kelleen shares the story of the Heber City Pride flags (https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900074800/lgbt-pride-flags-heber-city-utah-spark-controversy-support.html) and how she feels that has helped her community. Thank you Allison Belnap for your efforts. We also discuss Ben Schilaty’s latest blog post (https://benschilaty.blogspot.com/2019/07/pride-is-opposite-of-shame.html) about the importance of Pride Month. It think it is important to listen to our LGBTQ friends on why Pride Month is needed. Thank you for being on the podcast, Kelleen. You are awesome and you are doing great work.
My friend Briant Carter bravely shares his story as a gay Latter-day Saint who has been navigating this road for approximately 50 years. Briant, who has served in Bishoprics and Stake Presidencies, has only recently been able to set aside the shame for being gay including feelings of not being equal, broken, and less worthy. He now knows how to love himself and see himself as a wonderful son of Heavenly Parents. It’s a remarkable journey. Briant’s story will be helpful for our younger LGBTQ members to feel at peace with their sexual orientation and to stay close with our Heavenly Parents as they make their way forward. I was also struck with the good men in Briant’s life that asked him to serve creating a sense of belonging that we all need and receiving a Priesthood Blessing from his Elder Quorum President in preparation for this podcast. You are a great man Briant. I felt a wonderful spirit as you shared your story. Thanks for your goodness, value, worth and courage to share some of your journey with us.
My friend Kurt Nielsen calls in from Yorba Linda California to bravely share his story as a gay Latter-day Saint. Kurt has come out to his dear wife Mary, three children and some trusted friends. Kurt has been following deep impressions his whole life and now feels called to share his story more broadly. Kurt shares his journey as a gay man growing up in Northern Utah, serving a mission, getting married and having a family. Unlike our younger LGBTQ members who have some support networks, Kurt really had very little (until the last few years) causing him to develop a deep relationship with Heavenly Father and the subsequent personal revelation he received. Listening to Kurt’s story will help our LGBTQ members (especially from the perspective of someone who had been on this road for several decades), families with LGBTQ members, and local leaders looking to minister to our LGBTQ members. Kurt tells the story of helping his own Stake President to see how this issue needed to be addressed and then it subsequently was with an excellent talk from his Stake President in Stake Conference where he asked members of the congregation to raise their hand if they had an LGBTQ person in their life (almost all hands were raised). Yes, this is a topic that affects all Latter-day Saints. Kurt talks about the wonderful work being done in the neighboring Long Beach East Stake. Thank you for joining us on the podcast and having the courage to share your story. You are a great man. Thank you for helping me be a better disciple of Christ.
My friend Heidi Tucker shares her story of having her world rocked when her wonderful son Austin come home from his mission early. Heidi had to go deep with Heavenly Father and the Savior to deal and come to peace with this difficult situation. This journey led to personal revelation to write a book called ‘Finding Hope in the Journey.’ Heidi’s book is designed to give hope when difficult things happen in our lives of which many are outside of our control. She shares principles and perspectives to give us all better tools. Heidi is now a frequent speaker at LDS events (over 100 events) and has written a second book called ‘Servie’s Song.’ Heidi’s books can be found at Deseret Book, Amazon or at her website https://www.thepickledsunflower.com/. You can also reach Heidi through this website. Thank you Heidi for bravely sharing some of your family story. The principals and perspective you teach as part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are helping all of us have more hope, perspective and healing. Thanks for being on the podcast and all your great work!
My former missionary companion shares the story of his people, the Northwest Band of the Shoshone Nation. This group of Native Americans lived in Utah when Brigham Young arrived and their tribal leader Sagwitch visited with Brigham Young. This group helped the first Mormon settlers in the Cache valley but then most of their tribe was massacred in the Bear River Massacre in 1863. This was the largest massacre of Native Americans in history (around 400-450). Sagwitch later converted to the LDS Church. Darren’s mission is to bring voice to his people. The good they did. The injustices they received. How they converted to the LDS Church. Darren has been working with LDS Church leaders (close friendship with Bishop Causse) and Utah Government Leaders (Governor Herbert and Lt Governor Cox) to raise funds for a permanent facility at the site of the massacre. You can learn more at or donate at https://boaogoi.org/ Here is a recent article from the Deseret News: https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900031109/shoshone-nation-hopes-new-center-at-massacre-site-draws-sacred-feeling.html Thanks Darren for being an awesome senior companion in England in 1980 and, more importantly, the wonderful work you are doing for your people.
My friend Jana Spangler, married mother of 3, talks about how to understand and minister to those in a faith transition and in a mix-faith marriage. Jana also talks about Fowler’s stages of faith a framework to help all of us better understand our differences and create common group. Jana, a Life Coach, shared these insights recently at North Star (a LDS LGBTQ support organization) and a Ward fireside. This will be a very helpful podcast for those looking for added insights and tools to minister to those in a faith crisis or transition, those in a faith transition and those who find themselves in a mixed-faith marriage. Jana can be reached at https://www.symmetrysols.com/jana-spangler Thanks for being on the podcast Jana. Your work brings more understanding and helps keeps us together. You are awesome.
My friend Adam Durfee talks about his career in digital marketing including starting a digital ad agency, being named social media innovator of the year, and leaving his agency to teach at BYU to help students be better digital marketers. Adam also advises the Church on its digital marketing efforts. Yes, Adam (married) is a Professor at BYU at the age of 30. But most of the podcast is Adam sharing insights into our LGBTQ siblings, bringing voice to our talented women (his favorite topic), and his insights into the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Adam talks about how he creates an accepting culture in his class and on social media so that students (including those not in his class) know they can open up about difficult issues they are confronting. Thank you Adam for sharing some of your insights. You are a rare combination of great business skills and strong pastoral skills helping to lift so many. Thanks for being on the podcast. You can find Adam on Twitter, IG and Facebook @AdamDurfee