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Monday, July 4
The North American Collegians Take a Bit of Chipas in their Hearts
"Hope College left a good flavor in the mouths of the people of San Cristˇbal. Glenn Van Wieren, the coach of the Hope College basketball team, had nothing but words of gratitude for all the organizers of Chiapas basketball tour...the state of Chiapas is beautiful, the people of Chiapas were very friendly and really made us feel at home."
The Sterk's summary of Hope basketball's tour of the four major cities of
Our "hope" is that the members of the Hope College basketball team will not only remember Chiapas for basketball, but also for the relationships that were formed and the changed lives that they observed during their days in the southernmost state of Mexico. Our prayer is that their experience in Chiapas will have a lasting positive influence on their personal and spiritual lives."
Sunday July 3
For dinner the Governor brought us to one of the finest restuarant in Tuxtla where we all enjoyed massive dinners. Once again, Pablo Salazar's generosity and friendship was shown and we were able to present him with some Hope Basketball clothing in return for his gifts from Chiapas to us. After dinner we stopped at a park where some of the guys, led by senior Greg Immink, took part in some Mexican dancing with some of the locals.
It was a great last day in Mexico and we thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. A special thanks goes out to Governor Pablo Salazar and Vern and Carla Sterk for their gracious hospitality. We would also like to thank Tom Renner for keeping up with our journals from Mexico. He's the best!!! Go Hope.Saturday, July 2
Journaled by co-captains Andy Phillips, Greg Immink & Jeff Carlson
After waking up in San Cristobal after our last night at the Hotel Alcatraz we made our way back to Tuxtla. Upon arrival we had to quickly clean up and get ready for our lunch invitation at the governor's house. Governor Pablo Salazar and his wife Martha have become a close friend of Vern and Carla Sterk over the years and a great friend to Hope Basketball due to his love for the game and his faith in Christ. Our trip to Chiapas is made possible because of his generosity. We were treated to a buffet like none of us had never seen before and had a chance to tour the grounds of his estate which included an outdoor basketball court and tennis court. After a spectacular afternoon we got back to the hotel to rest up before our last game against the Chiapas Team Select.
It was a great game in part because we were playing our last game and it was in front of the governor. After a slow start, we quickly got things going in the second quarter and took the lead for good. The 78-71 victory was highlighted by junior student assistant Michael Aldrich's entrance with three minutes left to go in the fourth quarter. Wearing Travis Spaman's #34, Mike was able to put up an airball and led the team in fouls/minutes played as he drew three quick ones. Overall it was a great team win and a great way to end our basketball aspect of the trip in Mexico.
Once we made it back to the hotel we had a great time hanging out with the players from the opposing team and were able to trade many items of our Hope College basketball clothing with them for jerseys and other basketball apparel.
Friday, July 1
The run was powered by five consecutive three pointers (6-of-8 overall) by Jeff Carlson (27 points) as he singlehandedly went on a 15-2 run. He was truly, EN FUEGO. From there, Hope cruised to a 98-81 victory. Also scoring in double figures were Andy Phillips 18, Eric Voisin 17, and Partick Woolpert 15. Brett Jager dished out six assists. For Hope, it was great exhibition of a team-oriented offense and scrappy defense.
Another highlight of the evening was the halftime presentation which saw Vern "Re˝e" Sterk receiving an award from the city of San Cristobal for his influences and contributions to the game of basketball in Chiapas. Over the past 40 years Re˝e has been a standout player as well as an amassador for the game. He has had great influence on the people of San Cristobal by ministering through the game of basketball.
Thursday, June 30
At 9 a.m. we departed the hotel to visit the Mayan ruins of Palenque. These ruins are considered by archaeologists as one of the most important Mayan finds. Dr. Vern Sterk guided us throughout the ruins and told many interesting facts about them. The city was founded in 100 B.C. and by 600 A.D. it had become one of the major cities of Chiapas. At the ruins we toured temples, palaces, and tombs of the Mayan people. The stone architecture was spectacular, but the 90 degree heat made climbing all the stairs quite exhausting.
When we were finished visiting the ruins we began our trip to San Cristobal. Agua Azul, a magnificent series of waterfalls, was on the way and offered the team a chance to cool off and take a dip in the water. A highlight of Agua Azul was watching Coach Van Wieren plunge from a rope swing into the pool of water.
We ate a late but delicious lunch and arrived 4 hours later in San Cristobal around 9 p.m. A buffet dinner was waiting for us at the hotel. Another tasty meal was the end to a long day.
Wednesday, June 29
We arrived in Palenque after a five and a half hour trip. We had an excellent buffet lunch and afterward we moved into our hotels. After a short stay at the hotel we went to the gym for a short shoot-around. There were some people again lined up outside the gym when we arrived, which was nearly three hours before game time.We returned around 7:15 for our 8:00 game. The gym was packed upon arrival with estimated 1,800 people in the stands. The game started out very similar to Tuesday's game as we had a small lead at halftime, 41 - 40.
However, during the second half, a strange turn of events took place as the humidity from the gym created some moisture on the floor. It got so bad that there was nearly a ten-minute break to try and dry the floor. Coach VanWieren first suggested to call the game, but the coaches agreed to both play zone defense and have a running clock for the rest of the game in order to protect the players yet also keep the fans happy. After it was all said and done, we lost 65 - 60. Steve Cramer led the way with 14 points.
It was another exciting day for the Hope basketball team, even with all of the interesting events that took place at the game. We┤re looking forward to another fun day tomorrow as we visit some Mayan ruins and make our way back to San Cristobal.
Tuesday, June 28
Coach Glenn Van Wieren has brought his team to the province of Chiapas, Mexico for an 11-day experience that has included service projects, clinics and cultural experiences.
Tuesday's game was the first of four to be played before the team returns on July 4th. Tonight (Wednesday) the Flying Dutchmen will play a select team in Palenque, Mexico.
Joining semi-professional players from throughout Chiapas were two Olympic-caliber professional players designated by Mexico President Vicente Fox.
When the Flying Dutchmen arrived approximately four hours before game time, there were already fans lined up outside Comatin's basketball arena.
"It had much the atmosphere before a Hope-Calvin game," said coach Van Wieren.
The game was played in a packed arena before an estimated 1,500 fans. The team spent more than an hour after the game signing autographs and exchanging gifts.
The Flying Dutchmen led 33-31 at halftime. Hope applied an effective man-to-man defense to pull to a 56-41 lead midway through the second half. Hope's biggest margin was 20 points. Many of Hope's points came off the opponent's 26 turnovers.
"Our defense was just outstanding," said Van Wieren.
At a dinner after the game the Hope players and coaches were presented certificates declaring them citizens of Comatin, Mexico.
Nine of Hope's 11 players who saw action scored points led by Andy Phillips 13, Stephen Cramer 12 and Eric Voisin 11. Credited with four assists each were Patrick Woolpert, Jeff Carlson and Brett Jager. More Tuesday, June 28
Journaled by Travis Dyke and Peter Overbeek
We had a nice start to the day with the team being able to sleep in to around ten. The breakfast was really nice and we were on the road by eleven. After about a two-hour ride to Comitan we arrived at our next beautiful hotel. The rooms face an open roofed tropical garden from which we experienced hours of pouring rain. As soon as we arrived we ate and had time to take a little nap. Shoot-around soon followed.
When we arrived at the gym there was already a line forming to get into the game five hours before tipoff. Right then we knew we were in for a good time. The line reminded us of the lines for the Hope/Calvin games. After a short shoot-around we returned to the hotel around five and coach suggested we get some rest and stay out of the sun. Seven o┤clock came and it was time to load up and head to the gym. We arrived to a completely packed gym with standing room only filling up quickly. There were people packed into every corner of the gym, including under the railings. The crowd erupted as we entered the gym, anxious for some good American basketball.
After changing we headed back into the gym to present key chains, thundersticks and shirts to the enjoyment of the crowd. The kids were going crazy for the items. We then went right into our pregame from there which included some crowd pleasing dunks.
The first half went really well with Hope leading by two points at the half. After figuring out how the referees were calling the game we were able to pull away and win the game. Everyone played really well and the crowd loved every minute of it.
The game was fun, but after is when it got crazy. After fighting-off autograph seekers on the bench the whole game we finally got our time to shine. We were signing t-shirts, sweaters, hats, basketballs, thundersticks, and whatever else they could find. The fans couldn┤t take enough pictures either with around 20 pictures of each guy. We signed and smiled for a good hour before coaches had to force us out of there with fans still wanting more. As we pulled away on the bus fans were still looking for more t-shirts and pictures. Even when we arrived back at the hotel there were fans waiting for us. We then had a great meal with the Chiapas team we played. We were then awarded certificates of appreciation for playing in Comitan from the local officials. After dinner we returned to our rooms to shower and wash our jerseys in the sinks, followed by some winding down and resting up for the five-hour trip to Palenque and game two.
Monday, June 27
We started with part of the group mixing cement by hand and pouring it into the walls, while the other part of the group picked up shovels and pick axes and began to shovel dirt to make an elevated area where the pulpit will be. The work was very hard as was the ground, because it had rained in previous days making the dirt into heavy clay. We ended up breaking a couple of tools but that didn┤t stop us from completing our tasks. We never thought we would use the phrase, "Get your head out of the clouds," literally, but due to the elevation of the village we actually worked in the clouds.
After a couple hours of work we took a break for lunch. We were invited into one of the homes and served by the tribe. The delicious meal of chicken-vegetable soup, rice, and tortillas was made all from scratch that day. The women gathered wood to start fire, caught and killed a few chickens, and slices some fresh vegetables all morning to prepare a fantastic feast for us. The village was so generous that they made sure that they gave the best of what they had to offer to us, including chicken and vegetables.After many thanks and a few pictures we went back up to the church for a few hours to continue work. We dug up a bunch more clay around the outside of the church for cement to be laid. After a couple more hours work we were ready to leave the village, but before we did the leader of the village thanked us for our work. We had a lot of fun with the children of the village throughout the day and before we left we took some more pictures and gave away some shirts and then we made the trip back to the city of San Cristobal. Sunday, June 26
Journaled by Eric Voisin and Greg Immink
Our Sunday began with a trip from San Cristobal to the nearby town of Betania. We pulled in on our bus which gathers much attention from the indigenous people. We were welcomed into the village by a group of people as soon as we stepped off of the bus. Then we proceeded to the church of the village. Throughout the three-hour long service there were many opportunities for us to participate and take part. As a team, we worshiped with the Tzotzil Indians by singing three songs of praise in front of the church. Also, four members of our team shared inspiring words from the Bible as well as their testimonies. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to worship with people of different culture, language, and heritage. Following the service we had the opportunity to showcase a basketball exhibition for the local people of Betania. Despite the rain, the crowd was appreciative of the skills and athleticism we as a team exhibited. The afternoon hours took us to an Indian market where we bartered and interacted with the local people. The skills in the arts and crafts displayed by the locals was very impressive. As evening approached we traveled to the home of Vern "Re˝ee" and Carla Sterk. There, we heard of the history of the Sterk mission work in Chiapas. Over the past 37 years, they have had extraordinary success in terms of introducing Christianity to the indigenous people. Prior to the Sterk┤s arrival in Chiapas, the religion of choice was Shamanism, with only a handful of Christians. Now, there are over 50,000 Christians in the Chiapas area alone. Hearing the life story of the Sterk┤s made a great impact on each of us as we heard about power of God┤s work. It was an eye-opening experience to everyone and God has blessed us and been with us throughout the entire trip! Tune in tomorrow to hear about our work project in Chumula.
Saturday, June 25
Friday, June 24
Dr. Sterk took us to the Central Park and to an ice cream parlor, teaching us that ice cream is an international pleasure. Due to our early departure from Holland, most guys were tuckered out and ready for bed. After a short venture into the pool and some card playing, our first night of the trip ended delightfully with a nice, air-conditioned slumber.