This prosecutor was sure he had captured a dangerous ring of kidnappers who wanted to chop up Peruvian babies to export their organs.

Part I: The Toddlers in the Ditch

There was a little girl who was found in a ditch – with another little gal, both around 2 years old. The police found the parents of the other little gal, but not at all of the ones we helped. She was so decalcified her teeth were a mess and she could not walk. Maybe she had had polio or something like it, but probably it was just malnutrition.

She went to a small orphanage run by caring German ladies. They called her Elizabeth. I knew her, starved for love as well as nutrition, and with such a winning smile. A lovely missionary couple here adopted her and faithfully fulfilled all her needs.

During those years we had a very difficult lady judge of minors here in Arequipa. In the photo above, Bob and Noel in front of their home in Mollendo. They lived here before moving to the city of Arequipa. The social worker with Lutheran Ministries of Georgia (group I also helped with adoptions) told me this judge was wished down on a banana peel by about all the parents who came our way.

In the case of little Elizabeth, previously mentioned, the judge asked the parents of the first little gal about 4 times if they knew where our little Elizabeth came from. These parents got a bit frustrated with it all; as of course did our dear adopting parents! But the hardest part of the tedious adoption process for me came with the case of a dear little abandoned infant.

He was about 3 mos. old when a lady from the high mountains brought him to Arequipa. Supposedly he was the son of this lady’s husband, and the real mother was her sister. This did not come out at first. But as the lady threatened to leave the baby in the first park she came to, I called the lawyer who was helping us and we ended up Mollendo is a coastal town, where Bob and Noél worked for several years before moving to Arequipa. caring for the baby. To avoid the difficulty of the Arequipa judge, the lawyer suggested we take the baby to Mollendo where the judge offered to process the abandonment papers.

Bob drove us (Rut, who had known of the woman who brought the baby to Arequipa, as she was staying with a friend of hers, and the baby and me. Of course I took our own 4 yr. old Joseph too.)

We arrived, began the process, and returned to Arequipa. Bob went on a trip to a high mountain area where I had no communication with him, and the two of us (Rut and myself) returned to Mollendo the next week as we were summoned to continue the process.


Part II: The Prosecutor and His Conspiracy

Adoptions here are a legal process, not only involving lawyer and judge, but prosecutors as well. The prosecutor in Mollendo was very communist and did not like “gringos.” He had decided that maybe I had kidnapped the baby and accused me of that, stating that Rut and Gabriel, who was helping us in Mollendo, were my accomplices.

We were detained in the police station for 24 hours. My dear little Joseph got to spend the night in the lawyer’s parents house there in Mollendo. Rut was not a believer, and Gabriel was not particularly walking with the Lord at that time. It was a very difficult night!

Drunks were brought in and they thought it was extremely amusing to see this “gringa” prisoner! The police gave us a blanket to throw over the bench; it was May, (almost winter in our southern hemisphere) and cold and damp. Some of Gabriel’s friends found out and brought us a hot dog. One of them was the first believer we had in Mollendo, from 1967. This was 1987, 20 years later. Anyway, this brother said he would pray for us.

The police said I could call my husband. But again, he was way up in the mountains, unable to be communicated with. We were all supposed to be put in jail the next day, as here in Peru one is considered guilty until proved innocent.


Part III: The Trial

Trials are very long in coming and fair trials almost non-existent. The justice system here leaves much to be desired. This prosecutor was sure he had captured a dangerous ring of kidnappers who wanted to chop up Peruvian babies to export their organs.

I was permitted to call a lawyer, but not the lawyer who had recommended us to go to Mollendo! Thankfully there wasn’t a women’s jail in Mollendo, and when the legal assistant I had summoned arrived the next day, we were allowed to return to Arequipa, but had a long court case following all three of us.

We were not allowed to leave the country and had several trips down to Mollendo to deal with this case. Bob had to make a trip to the far areas of Puno to find the real mother, who of course denied the whole thing at first. When she found out that I would have a jail sentence of 10 years if she did not come to Arequipa and clear me of kidnap charges, she did come down.

But she, like many of these dear little Indian people had no legal identity documents. She traveled with her father’s Over the years Noél has helped find homes for needy children through adoption. For years, she also gave Bible classes at the large state boys home. document, but for the court case, we had to pay for her, her sister, and nephew here in the house in Arequipa, to get their identity documents. This was not fast, either.

Anyway, the kidnap charges were finally lifted and we had the lawsuit of why we went to Mollendo instead of doing the abandonment process in Arequipa. The judge there said we didn’t lie well enough. No, we could not lie well enough. I will say that the night we were detained, I felt the Lord’s presence with me.

I had just a little N.T. with Psalms. I read it and cried a good part of the night, but did feel peace that the Lord was with me. Rut was hysteric most of the night. As I read the Psalms, she asked: “Can your God get us out of here?” I felt like Daniel in the lion’s den. But I hadn’t been as diligent in prayer over this as Daniel had! God really spoke to me that night and I do thank Him!

God was faithful, and when we were returned to Arequipa, I really appreciated the gift of liberty!! The best part was what happened to the dear little baby!! Of course I was not permitted to let him be adopted out of the country, but a wonderful Norwegian Lutheran missionary family really wanted him!

They at first were not permitted to have custody, but as the case continued, they were able to accompany the biological mother to Puno and do their adoption there. Later, when all was cleared, I was able to help them with two more adoptions of needy baby boys!

What a blessing to receive a Christmas card from the little guy when he was 8, all in Norwegian! The family later also returned to Peru and we were present at their confirmation ceremony. Our little Peruvian guys are serving the Lord! That is the most important part for me in each of the children we have helped!

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We are Bob and Noél Rich, followers of Jesus Christ. We came to Peru over forty five years ago and have seen God do some amazing things. Bob and Noél Rich Visit our About Us page to see more info about us.

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