There is a Chinese word that the Chinese people use often, but it doesn’t have a very good English equivalent. The word is guanxi 关系。It often gets translated as relationship, or what I think is even closer, rapport (I know, you’re wondering if that’s even English). The problem with translating this word guanxi is that it is such a cultural concept. Guanxi represents something that American culture doesn’t have. In China, relationships are everything. “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” When you move into a new apartment here, its a good idea to get to know the gate guards right away. Ask them about their kids, their hometown, give them an apple as you come home from the market. Eventually, you’ll need something from them, information or a favor, or help with some task. Never mind that you’re paying a fee every month to the apartment complex for their services… Rather, because of the relationship you’ve built with them, they feel a responsibility towards you.
Recently, something changed. I can’t say if it’s time, or the fact that we keep coming back, or something I’m entirely unaware of. But something has definitely changed.
“This girl,” and she pointed to a child sitting near us, “She’s never been diagnosed, and we don’t know what to do with her. Can you help her?”
It was the first time that she’d ever asked us for help with anything. It took everything within me not to jump up and scream, “Yes!” Keep it together, Rebekah. Maintain a professional attitude. I let my Chinese colleague field the question, and she answered with a calm and positive approach. “Of course, we’re willing to try everything we can. What are her biggest challenges?”
Since that day, the Director has smiled and laughed and talked more than ever before. Finally, after 6 years, I feel like we have gained her trust and cooperation. At our next visit, the Director signed the therapy program agreement, and the girl that she asked us about is our very first therapy participant. We call her Hannah, which means favor and grace. Every time I see Hannah, I am reminded of that day, and the favor and grace we received both from our Father and from the orphanage. Just as He was faithful to answer Hannah’s prayers for a son in the Old Testament, He has been faithful to answer ours as well.