Saturday, March 5, 2016

A Time of Challenge, A Time For Faith

This photo was taken the middle of January in the Mission Home, with our special friend Ingrid and our special Elder Woods.  It is a very sweet memory.  We had no idea what was in store for us just a month later.

Many of you are aware that we are currently in Salt Lake City undergoing evaluation for Lothaire at the Huntsman Cancer Center.  So many of you have emailed and messaged and called to express concern and support and to ask what is going on.  Because I can't respond to everyone, and because Lothaire doesn't really like to be the center of attention on Facebook, we decided that I would post the situation here on our blog and also post updates as they come in, so that those of you who want to can find the latest information this way.

Early in February, Lothaire noticed a relatively small mass on the right side of his neck.  It was a very busy time.  We were just finishing up interviews for our 178 missionaries, took a trip to Buenos Aires for a Mission President training seminar, came home to a big cambio with 32 new missionaries arriving, and started up the next round of Zone Conferences.
The mass seemed to be getting larger and I made him go in to the Dr. before we left to the south of our mission for 5 days.
The mass was soft and an ultrasound was recommended, but we left the next day.

By the time we returned to Concepcion, we could tell that the mass was larger and firmer.  And then on Tuesday morning, Feb. 23, Lothaire woke up with no voice.  He had been experiencing some hoarseness over the last month, but he talks a lot almost every day of the week with interviews, trainings, conferences, etc.  So we assumed he just needed to rest his voice.  But when he woke up with NO voice, a big red flag went up.  We had a big Zone Conference that morning and he somehow whispered his way through his part, using a microphone.

That afternoon, he called his cousin who is an ENT in California and the urgency of the situation became more apparent.  Many calls were made and an appointment was made with an ENT in Concepcion the next day.  He was very concerned and sent Lothaire for a CT scan and an ultrasound.
The tests were completed and we were back in the Dr.'s office on Thursday afternoon the 25th.  We all assumed that it was a thyroid issue, but the tests showed there was no thyroid involvement.  The Dr. was puzzled and recommended a
sub specialist, getting us an appointment the next day.
At this point, Lothaire and I were on much higher alert.  He continued to consult with his cousin in the states, and also called the medical department for the missionaries.  We have called them many times for some of our missionaries in trouble with their health, but now it was our turn.  Without skipping a beat, the head Dr. heard the story on the phone and said, "We need to get you out of there ASAP".

Later that evening, they called with our flight information and we were to fly to Salt Lake Friday afternoon - the very next day.  Appointments were being set up for immediate care.
What were we to do?  We knew that we had to go, but for how long?  Would we be back?  Who would watch over our missionaries while we were gone?
Friday morning we already had a Consejo scheduled - a meeting with the Zone Leaders and Sister Trainer Leaders of the entire mission - 32 missionaries plus our 2 Assistants.  We went to the meeting with anxious hearts.  After I gave my training, Lothaire came up and stood by me as I explained the situation and that we would be leaving for an undetermined length of time.  There were tears all around - probably mostly from me.  Lothaire gave me permission to hug each one (I usually only hug the Hermanas and shake the hands of the Elders), and say goodbye.  One of our sweet Elders started playing the hymn, "God Be With You Till We Meet Again", and they all softly sang.  I was afraid my heart would burst.  We love each one of our missionaries so very, very much!!
Lothaire took me home so that I could quickly pack, and he finished the meeting.  And then, before we had time to even think about it, we were on the plane to Santiago, then to Atlanta, and then to Salt Lake City.

We knew that someone from the church would be meeting us and taking us to where we would stay.  What we didn't know was that 5 of our children had booked flights to be there with us.  So when we got off the plane and Meagan was standing there, and Jordan shortly after, we were astounded, humbled, and weeping once again.  Chelsea and Amy and Bee flew in a few hours later.
Our appointments were not until Monday, so we were able to enjoy the weekend with our kids - it was some of the very best medicine!  Some of them were able to stay until after the appointments.  We felt very fortunate to be seen by the head of the ENT Department at the Huntsman.    He very carefully went over the reports we brought from Chile and considered three different options:  a Schwannoma, a paraganglioma, or a peripheral nerve sheath tumor.  The tricky part is that the mass encases the carotid artery - which would be a very difficult and delicate surgery.
Also, the vocal nerves have been compromised which is why he can only whisper.
The Dr. scheduled an ultrasound guided needle biopsy, a CT scan of the chest (because of the size and location of the mass), and an MRI of the neck.  The tests couldn't be done until Thursday, so we sent the kids home to their families.  However, the next evening, our son Jonas flew in from his home in Hawaii, and is with us still.

The tests were done and seem to indicate lymphoma - treatable with chemo and radiation.  Not great news but a much better scenario than surgery.  To make certain, Lothaire is scheduled for an open biopsy to harvest a larger piece of tissue, on Monday afternoon.  The results will probably take several days.

So what does this all mean?  Will we be able to finish our mission?  Quite possibly not - a very difficult thought for us.  The church has appointed a stand in President until we know our time frame.  If treatment takes too long, we will need to be released and replaced.  We know that our missionaries will be fine - they are incredibly awesome.  But to say that we will miss serving with them is an understatement.

Will we ever get to see our grandchildren, who are in AZ, CA and Hawaii and Virginia?
We sincerely hope that will happen much SOONER than later!!!

The most important thing is to get the right care for Lothaire - to get him in good health once again.
Many might say, "Why did this happen when you were serving the Lord?"
We have lived long enough to come to know that our lives here are kind of a proving ground!
We are given challenges so that we can exercise our faith and hold tight to the word of God!
Our challenges stretch us and help us to grow and to become who we are meant to become!
The reward of eternal life with our family is well worth any trial we have to bear.
We trust in the Lord.  We know that this is HIS plan, not ours!
We give thanks for our Savior and his atonement, which brings mercy and comfort and peace and joy into our lives.

We express our love to you and our gratitude for the praying and fasting and words of love and encouragement that keep us going forward!

I am including some random photos from the last month, and as I mentioned before, as we receive news, I will post it to this site.

A happy moment together - one of many!

Much loved missionaries
These two young men spotted us at a chapel where we were having interviews.
They recognized us and requested a photo - great prospective missionaries!

On the 19th of January we taught classes on living Prophets and making good choices, for several hundred young people.
With us in this photo are President and Sister Alder - Santiago Temple, and President Warne from the Rancagua Mission.
This cute returned missionary helped us all day.
These are our missionaries who returned to their homes on Feb. 9th.  Such amazing young people!
And here are some of our new 32 who arrived that same day.
Here are the rest, minus 2.  We had 2 from Brazil fly in later that day from their training center in Argentina.

Here we are at one of our Zone Conferences inTemuco - completely unaware that we would be heading for Salt Lake City the very next week.

It's always fun to eat with our missionaries!

Some of our cute, sweet Hermanas!
Our last Zone Conference with San Pedro, Lebu, and Coronel - just 3 days before we left.  Still unaware!


Missionaries in Loncoche - our furthest South!


Some of our Zone Leaders in Los Angeles (Chile!) - the middle part of our mission .

Such awesome young men!!!
This happened the Sunday before we left - still unaware of the seriousness of the problem.  Our sweet Hermana on the left was having trouble with her eyes, and the family here in the photo brought them up to the mission home for President to look at her.  The members here watch over our missionaries so wonderfully!
And here is President in his office with his two outstanding assistants.
They carry a big load and do it well!
Here in Salt Lake City with some of our kids - trying not to think about the serious stuff!

And with Jonas - finding something delicious to partake of at Kneaders:)



  1. Thank you, Sister Bluth, for this wonderful blog and update! Our prayers are with you! We appreciate all your kindness and love and service for all the missionaries in the Concepcion South mission! Hugs to you!!!

  2. Dear hermana! We miss you both! You've been an incredible example to all of us in Chile. Thanks for all your love and consecration to the work. I hope Pres. Bluth gets better soon. Big hugs. Diego

  3. Not "family" but "TRUE FRIEND"! Our prayers are with you in Mesa! Susan Dyar

  4. What a rough few weeks you have had! Our love and our prayers are with you. As always, the way you handle your challenges is an example of faith and courage and an inspiration to all of us. So glad you have been able to be with family!

  5. Yes, You are family to me! I love the beautiful post of the darling pictures that bring smiles to our faces to see you both with family and your dear missionaries! This is so close to my heart because what we just went through with Ryker and the love I have for you both. Yes FAITH,HOPE,and CHARITY are seen in your eyes! All will be well! love you and Ill share with others. Melanie Conway

  6. Oh, Aunt Connie and Uncle Lothaire!! We have had you all in our constant prayers-along with the Dr's. Thank you for the updates. I can't imagine how you felt leaving those wonderful missionaries. Glad you got to hug them all! That part made me smile. :) Your faith and testimonies are inspiring. We love you!!

    1. Thank you for your prayers and your love - we need them and can feel them! Love you back and hope to see you soon!

  7. We fasted for you this Sunday. So happy to have updates and to see pictures of everyone. Love you all and I am a little heartbroken to think those sweet missionaries won't have you both there leading them. Grateful to call you family and praying for a speedy recovery.

    1. Thanks so much, Teri - and we are looking forward to seeing you soon!

  8. What a difficult thing to are amazing and such a wonderful example. Thanks for the everlasting impact you have had on so many young lives. Our prayers are with you daily. We know you are being watched over. Much love! Elder Cupello's parents (Bill and Cheryl)

  9. We just want you to know you are in our prayers. Our daughter, Hermana Suzanne Nielson (Yumbel), was so worried about you. Thank you for your kindness and leadership for our daughter as a new and scared misionera. We just barely got her arrival letter and picture with you (from December) last week. FYI, when we moved to AZ in 2010, President Bluth was our stake president in val vista stake. We knew she was in great hands before she left. May you continued to be blessed! Mark and Jodi Nielson

    1. We loved getting to know your sweet daughter! Please let her know that things are progressing well and that we pray for her and all of "our" missionaries each and every day! All will be well for the Lord is in charge:)!