What About Bob?

In following the theme of “God’s Faithfulness in Japan”, I have a bit of a humorous story to pass along.  We’ve tossed this one around for years. It’s always good for a laugh, but pretty hard to repeat.  I guess it helps if you’re one of the “Bobs”.

Anyway, here’s what missionary Bob Gierhart has to say:

“In the early 80’s there were seven “Bobs” in our mission.

Early one Saturday morning when we were living in Kyoto and working at the Kyoto Friendship house, I received a call from someone who said, rather in a rush, I thought, ‘Bob, I’m putting them on the 9:00.’

As I said, ‘Okay’, he hung up.  I was half asleep so I hadn’t asked for any details nor had I asked any questions. And these were the days before called ID.

The caller assumed I was supposed to know who it was that was calling, and who would be arriving (and where) after being put on the “9:00″. The problem as I saw it, was that I didn’t know who called, who the person was that was coming, when they would be arriving, and whether they were coming by train or plane.  Needless to say I was in a bit of a fix.

It was about 9:00 on a Saturday morning and someone was going to be waiting for me to meet him or her when they arrived somewhere that morning.

After a couple of minutes of panic, it came to me that perhaps that person had called the wrong Bob and the right Bob would know who it was and where they were to be met.  The problem was, who was the right Bob?  As I said, there were seven “Bobs” in the mission at that time.

I called Bob Hardy who lived in Kobe not too far from Kyoto.  He worked at the Baptist Hospital in Kyoto.  I thought it might be him.  However, when I talked to him, he had no idea who it was.  He agreed to go to Osaka Air Port to see if someone was waiting for him.  In the mean time I would go to the Kyoto Train Station.

After several hours, neither one of us saw anyone who might be waiting for a “Bob”.   We hoped someone would call one of our wives telling us they were waiting for us somewhere, but when we called our houses, there had been no messages.  We had no idea what happened to that person.  Of course these were the days before mobile phones, and even pay phones were few and far between.  Dejectedly, I returned home as did the ‘other’ Bob.

It wasn’t until two years later that we learned the rest of the story.  It seems Chuck Gafford, who was living in Tokyo, put the president of Golden Gate Theological Seminary, Dr. Harold Graves and his wife on a train going to Arakawaoki Station in Ibaragi-ken (far north of Tokyo, nowhere near Kyoto or Osaka) at 9:00 that Saturday morning and had assumed that Bob Daugherty was going to meet them.

Bob Daugherty used to live in the same house in Kyoto that we were currently living in. Chuck Gafford must have looked in an old mission directory for Bob Daughtery’s phone number. When I answered and he said “Bob”, I guess he didn’t realize he had the wrong Bob and that I, Bob Gierhart was now living there.

Meanwhile, on this Saturday morning, Bob Daugherty was wondering why Chuck Gafford hadn’t called him to tell him when and where to meet the President and his wife.

And so, no stranger to confusion after living many years in Japan, Bob Daughtery realized he just needed to get down to the train station and see if his expected guests were there.

There he found Dr. Graves and his wife who had been waiting at Arakawaoki station for over an hour.

When Bob Daughtery arrived, there was much rejoicing even though Bob was mortified that he had left such honored guests waiting for so long.”

Back to Marsha…. Now, I guess if I was a better missionary, I’d find the sermon in this story. Several have been suggested, but maybe I should just close with a moral: If your name is Bob, you might consider changing it to Robert.

Or how about this one: Psalms 147:4, He determines the number of the stars; He gives to all of them their names.

Rest assured, God knows your name, and He never gets confused.

Til next time,


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