The Monday after her father passed unexpectedly, Sintya put on a brave face and went to class as if nothing had changed. Right now, she just needed a distraction from the thought that her world had shattered and her future was unsure.

Without a word from Sintya, one of her directors learned what had happened. Knowing that Sintya’s father was the main provider for her family, the director took action. She called Sintya into her office and told Sintya not to worry about the financial burden she now faced. “That’s when I learned about the scholarship help available for students in crisis,” Sintya recalls. “Stunned, I sat in her office thinking, ‘Wow, I definitely came to the right school, they are one step ahead! God is truly helping me out.’”

Through the scholarship, Sintya found the freedom to continue her studies. When summer came, though, Sintya knew she had to find an outlet to take her mind off things.

“The pain of losing a parent doesn’t just end. It drags on. During the following months, there were moments when grief engulfed me. But whenever I would struggle, my friends and professors were always there.”

A friend told her about a mission trip to Cuba through the university’s Students for International Mission Service (SIMS). It would be a wonderful opportunity to help people in need and grow her nursing skills. Unfortunately, she couldn’t afford to go. But Sintya felt the call to serve, so she got to work.

Sintya’s search for a way to pay for the trip led her back to scholarship opportunities. Because of generous donor support, one was available specifically for the mission trip. She got it — but it still wasn’t enough. Undeterred, Sintya got a job as a caregiver at a Skilled Nursing Facility to pay for the rest. 

When she had finally saved up enough, she took her application to the SIMS office. She was thirty minutes late and the plane tickets had already been booked, but SIMS was happy to take her application. “It was then I knew this trip was part of my destiny,” Sintya says. 

The pain of her father’s loss still stinging, Sintya left home.

Healing Far From Home

In Cuba, Sintya didn’t have much time to let her mind wander from the task at hand. Every day, she and her peers provided around 500 people badly needed basic healthcare services. She checked vital signs, screened for diabetes, handed out glasses, taught basic dental hygiene and even provided activities for children. She let the daily flood of others’ struggles cover up her own, always keeping her grief hidden from her peers.

Even on her darkest days, though, Sintya couldn’t help feeling the deep appreciation of each patient. And that loving gratitude began to change her. “Everyone was so caring, enough so that I remember most patients I worked with,” Sintya recalls. “Even when doing a simple blood pressure reading, I was met with a smile and love. Each simple act truly made a difference. Through those moments I started to find hope despite tragedy.

Every day uncovered more of the hope that Sintya had lost inside herself when her father passed. On the last day of the trip, all the SIMS participants gathered to share time in prayer. Sintya finally let her guard down and shared her story with the group. “I shouldn’t have expected anything else... I was blown away by the level of support and care.

Sintya looks back on her mission trip as a time of great healing in her life. “Through this experience, I was able to slowly learn to let go of my own painful experience, take a break and be thankful for everything God has given me.” 

“Thanks to the support of faculty, students and generous supporters, I was able to dig deep into myself and find new light. While I was fortunate to receive a scholarship, I know that mission trips are not something everyone can afford.”

Support Students Like Sintya

Your support can have an impact on the lives of students like Sintya. Sintya credits her trip with her professional growth, helping her realize her dream to become a nurse. Now, as a nurse in training, Sintya has a new dream: that students have the same opportunities she had, no matter their financial situation.

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