Franklin teen on a mission

Published 10:42 am Friday, October 15, 2010

Erin Spivey of Franklin sits in front of a map that shows countries she’s visited with People to People and on church missionary trips. -- Merle Monahan | Tidewater News


FRANKLIN—While in high school, Erin Spivey got a taste of mission work.

Now, she’s considering it as a career.

The 18-year-old Southampton High School graduate during the last few years has taken mission trips to France, Italy, Malta, Australia, Peru and, most recently, Romania.

“I got so much out of this last trip,” Spivey said. “I taught Bible school to the children there, and actually, they were receptive. I was satisfied that they were learning.”

A freshman at the University of Virginia, she took her first trip when she was 15 as a People to People Student Ambassador with about 40 others.

People to People is a program started by President Dwight Eisenhower in which students from across the country visit students in other countries.

“We visited France, Italy and Malta,” said Spivey, who is the daughter of Edward and Susan Spivey of Franklin. “We were away for three weeks, and it was a wonderful experience. I learned a lot, in addition to making so many new friends.”

The trips familiarize people in other countries with the American culture, while learning about how they live.

“We would get involved in some of the activities the host country had going on, like environmental programs, things like that,” she said.

The following year, Spivey served as a student ambassador and traveled to Australia. Students from Boston and Puerto Rico joined her delegation. A devout Christian and a very active lifelong member of Sycamore Baptist Church in Franklin, Spivey traveled with a local church group to Peru on her next mission.

“This was so much different from my previous trips,” she said. “This time we were sharing God with and teaching the Bible to the people, where before, we did a lot of sightseeing and trading information.”

Spivey’s latest trip to Romania was under the sponsorship of Union Mission Ministries of Virginia Beach.

“There were 12 of us,” she said. “We were from different churches, but it didn’t take long for us to become fast friends.”

Spivey taught Bible school to as many as 35 children in a Christian school affiliated with the local Baptist church.

“That was a pretty large group,” she said, “But everything turned out well. I’d ask questions after the lesson, and they answered correctly, so I knew they were paying attention.”

Teaching the children was not the only interaction the young missionary had with the residents.

“We’d teach school in the morning and visit homes in the small villages in the afternoon, where we’d show the occupants, many of whom were extremely poor, how to do crafts and other things that they had not heard of.”

Spivey says she wouldn’t take anything for her experiences.

“Visiting these countries was a chance of a lifetime,” she added.

The one drawback is that most expenses are borne by the missionaries, and it can be expensive. So, on her last trip, Spivey wrote letters to friends and members of her church seeking donations.

“This was a big help,” she said. “I understand funds were still coming in even after I had left for Romania.”

She still thinks about taking “that next trip,” but for a few more years, she will concentrate on her studies. In her free time, Spivey will study the big world map she has hanging on her bedroom wall. On it, she has pinpointed every country she has visited with a colored push-pin, but there is room for more.