Made it to O'Hare! Look for more pics coming soon!

Great fundraising event last night for students going on missions!

Prepping for something big

Tonight, we are helping to throw a huge fundraiser for El Pozo’s students to go on Spring Break mission trips! More pics and stories coming after!

When plans change

As a team, we are learning that not everything goes as planned. Whether it’s eating meals that take longer than usual, or missing out on washing dishes because you are having a great conversation with another student - there is stuff coming up left and right that is teaching flexibility!

Today we planned on heading to the pyramids of Teotihuacan. On the way there we got in a minor fender bender. Everyone is A-OK! It was at a toll booth so there were plenty of VERY nice and generous people around. As we waited to get everything figured out - our team ate lunch, played games and shared laughs at the transportation center. As I watched them, I was extra encouraged by a team who is flexible enough to share life with each other during an unexpected time. While the trip to the pyramids never happened, I’m grateful for God’s grace and provision AND a team that I’m so proud to be a part of!


Our team visited the abuelitos today!

From Alicia...

Relaxing is big thing I have learned in Mexico. I absolutely love how everyone seems very relaxed and is patient with those who struggle to speak Spanish like me. Patience is also very common; the traffic in Mexico is chaotic, but unlike America where you would hear horns honking and people screaming, people in Mexico will wait for other people to pass and so on. Also, even though the environment is rather relaxed and patient, there are times where things can get lively. One thing that I think I will never forget is watching band practice and just how expressive they are when they play. Also, Mexican culture is very expressive when they talk and are a touch oriented culture and I think it has made me feel more comfortable touching others and not feeling like I’m making them uncomfortable. Within all these experiences, I am just completely in awe of how much Mexico reminds me of Christ’s ministry. Christ sought after sinners and did so with patience. Christ wants us to relax and to not get so caught up in worldly things and focus on the things that are truly important, like relationships with people. As of right now, we have met a couple of students in passing; tonight will be the first “formal” social event and I cannot wait to connect with some more students. God continues to amaze me everyday and it’s only day 3. There is so much more yet to come! We all miss you guys dearly; stay warm friends.

working hard 💪🏽

From Alissa...

“Whenever I go on a mission trip to a new place, I always love it so much that I want to go back. The culture, people, and language of Hispanic countries have such a draw for me, that I cannot pass up an opportunity to visit them.

This year for me has been very much about drawing closer to God. I have grown up in a godly family, but it has been a long time since I have personally felt close to the Lord. I have begun a process of getting to know Him on a deep, personal level and opening my heart further to Him. My prayer for this week is that He will help me become increasingly in tune with His will, and that He will give me the discernment to do what I am supposed to do wherever He has placed me.

My other hope for this week is for our team to become a family. We have only been here for a little over 24 hours, and I can already seeing this happening. As I’m writing this, half of the team is playing a board game together. There is something special about serving in another country for a week that draws people together. The more we as a team can draw closer together, the more we can join together to bless the people around us.

As of this evening, we have not met many of the college students in Mexico, but that will change tomorrow. I would love for people to be praying that our team can truly be a blessing to these students and the staff here. Please pray that the Lord will give us the courage and boldness to step out and meet the students and get to know them.”

We made it!

It is currently 8:36 in Puebla and the team just ate an AMAZING dinner of Tacos de Pastor. We are filled to the brimmed and so happy to be here. We have been traveling since 3:45 am so tonight will be an early night. The staff is so welcoming here and have made sure we feel at home.

We’d love prayer for tonight’s rest to give us more energy than we’ll need!

Look for a post tomorrow with some student stories and pics of our adventure!

Waiting to leave

The team made it to O’hare safe and sound. Got a little bit of a delay for our flight- hoping for nothing big! Can’t wait to get to Puebla. We’ll update you once we make it! 


Name: Ashton Mathews

Year and Major:  Junior, English Education

How do you wish to grow as a result of this trip?: I hope to grow closer to God in Mexico, and throughout the trip I want to experience his love in a deeper way.  I also would like to spend quality time bonding with my fellow team members!

What are you looking forward to on the Mexico trip?: I’m looking forward to broadening my horizons and getting out of my comfort zone by traveling to a different country. I hope to build long-lasting relationships with the people in Mexico and I’m excited to serve them compassionately and wholeheartedly.  Also, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t excited about the food, too!


Name: Isaac Stroup

Year and Major: 2nd Year Graduate Student – Applied Economics (Intern with Encounter)

How do you wish to grow as a result of this trip?: I want to build lasting relationships with the team on the trip and the staff and students in Mexico, and I want to grow in my ability to listen to how God is calling me to serve him more in my daily life.

What are you looking forward to on the Mexico trip?: I’m really looking forward to visiting Mexico for the first time, serving God alongside an awesome team of students,  getting a taste of how El Pozo does campus ministry, and of course, the food!


Name: Jake Rice

Year and Major: Junior, Actuarial Science Major

 How do you wish to grow as a result of this trip?: During this trip, I want to expand my view of what it means to be a child of God. The only exposure I have ever experienced with respect to worshiping God is my home, American experience. I want to see the way more people from different backgrounds worship the same God in various ways. I hope to grow in my love of worshiping God, and I hope to be able to find more ways to bring God praise.

 What are you looking forward to on the Mexico trip?: I am looking forward to seeing another country. I have never been outside the US, and am very excited to see another culture. I am also excited to try my Spanish out a bit (we will see how that goes…). I’m also looking forward to seeing how God uses our team this week to grow together and encourage one another.



Name: Hannah Baker

Year and Major: Soph/Jr - Early Childhood Education

How do you wish to grow as a result of this trip?: I hope to grow closer with my team and Jesus as a result of this trip.

What are you looking forward to on the Mexico trip? I am looking forward to being in a different culture and living life with another campus ministry for the week, loving the people there well and gaining new friendships.



 Name: Phil Lopez

 Year and Major: Encounter Staff

 How do you wish to grow as a result of this trip?:Every time I take a trip like this, I feel like I come home a little different. This time, I hope to come back with a little more patience. I would love to be able to take care of the people around me more effectively because of my time spent on this trip.

 What are you looking forward to on the Mexico trip?: I am really excited to be amongst people that are very close to my heart. I love the staff and students down there and am so pumped to reconnect with them. I LOVE exposing people to stuff that I love, so I can’t wait to be alongside our team as they experience something very special down there. 



 Name: Alissa Schmidgall

 Year and Major: Sophomore, Accounting major

 How do you wish to grow as a result of this trip?: To grow closer to the Lord and for my heart to become more like His

 What are you looking forward to on the Mexico trip?: Reconnecting with friends in Mexico and building relationships with our team



 Name: Mollie Smith

 Year and Major : Junior, Psychology

How do you wish to grow as a result of this trip?:  I  want to grow in my willingness to follow God without having to have a set plan first. I want to be able to take a step out in faith and allow God to do the rest.

What are you looking forward to on the Mexico trip?:  I’m looking forward to putting my Spanish minor to good use, building relationships, and eating all the Mexican food.



Name: Austin Walker

Year and Major: Encounter Alum - Graduated from ISU in 2014 with a degree in Entrepreneurship & Small Business Management. Currently an SEO Specialist at Cybernautic.

How do you wish to grow as a result of this trip?: I want to grow by expanding my world view and seeing how people from different cultures worship & connect with Jesus

What are you looking forward to on the Mexico trip?: I’m looking forward to getting to know our students better, meet their students, encourage their staff, and eat some goooooood food!



 Name: Emma Schmidgall

 Year and Major: Freshman in Nursing

 How do you wish to grow as a result of this trip?: I am hoping to continue to learn how to serve and relate to others well. It’s something I’ve been learning over the last couple of years and I’m hoping this trip will be another big step in that journey. 

 What are you looking forward tour on the Mexico trip?: I’m looking forward to the relationships that I will build with people from a totally different part of the world. Those will last forever.



 Name: Nick Jones

 Year and Major: Junior majoring in Business Management - Entrepreneurship

 How do you wish to grow as result of this trip?  I’m really looking to grow in seeing God in every situation/event/service project we do and having an open mind in everything we do on this trip!  

 What are you looking forward to on the Mexico to?: I look forward to interacting with the people down there and being able to experience a different culture. Also, I look forward to seeing how the church in Mexico worships. And of course the authentic Mexican food that we will get the chance to eat! (Secretly excited for taco eating contest against Phil Lopez too)