• Veronika Alekseyenko

Children's Corner: Orthodoxy in the Dominican Republic

Updated: Sep 16, 2019

We're trying something new! We think it's important to start having conversations with our little ones about Orthodoxy, giving to the needy, and missionary work from an early age. That's why today we're sharing with you something you can do with your children. A short story first, conversational questions, and an activity. Let us know what you think in comments and if you'd like to see more posts like this!




Short Story:

Fr. Rafael is from the Dominican Republic and serves not one, or two, but six missions there! Imagine your local priest serving not only at your church but five more! That's hard work. To do so, he drives a car to these locations. Can you spot the six cities on the map? Each location is unique in some way. Many people travel to go on vacation to the Dominican Republic. That's why many of these locations are tied in some way to tourism. For example, Punta Cana is known for its beautiful beaches, great hotels, and a new airport. But there are also cities like Jamao where the land is used for growing cocoa, coffee, avocados, oranges, and other fruits.


Not only does Fr. Rafael serve in these six different locations but he also leads an active ministry. He runs a Russian school, drives parishioners to church, organizes games for children, translates for Orthodox immigrants, and much more! He really makes a point to go outside the church to reach people, share the joy of Christ and simply show Christian kindness.


Fun facts about the Coat of Arms (located: top right corner of the map):

  • Motto: Dios, Patria, Libertad / "God, Homeland, Liberty"

  • In the center of the shield is a Bible with a small golden cross above it.

  • The constitution says that the Bible be opened to the book of John 8:32, which reads, "conocerán la verdad, y la verdad los hará libres", literal translation: "They will know the truth and the truth will set them free."

  • The coat of arms appears in the center of the flag of the Dominican Republic.


Click on image to save and print to color!


Dominican Republic Mission Activity, Age 6 and under


What Is a Missionary?


Conversation

  1. What does our church look like? Is it a building? Is it pretty inside? Some Orthodox Christians don’t have church buildings! Can you imagine having church outside? Or in your house? What would that be like?

  2. What does our priest do? How many churches does he serve? Some priests serve lots of churches! Sometimes those churches don’t have buildings. Fr. Raphael serves six churches! And not all of those churches have buildings!

  3. Fr. Rafael is a missionary in the Dominican Republic. Let’s find the Dominican Republic on a map. Is it far away from where we live?

  4. What are apostles or missionaries? They travel around the world and teach people how to be Christians. Who teaches you how to be a Christian? (Parents, godparents, priest, Sunday School teacher, etc.)


Activity

Here is a map (see above) of the Dominican Republic where Fr. Raphael is a missionary. Let’s color it!

  1. Can you find six crosses? Color them red.

  2. Do you see vans driving on the roads? Color them white.

  3. Can you trace the roads with yellow?

  4. Where are the trees on the map? Do they look like the trees near your house? Color them green.

  5. Can you find the airplane? Can you find the boat? Color them grey.

  6. Can you find two buildings? Color them brown.

  7. Do you see people swimming in the ocean? Color the water blue.

  8. Can you find a farm with oranges? Color it orange.

  9. Do you see a waterfall? Color it blue.

  10. What else do you see? Can you color more?

Dominican Republic Mission Activity, Age 7 and up


Apostles and Missionaries: Spreading the Faith


Conversation Jesus told the disciples at His Ascension, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation.” Where did they go? Can you find some of these cities, countries, and continents on a map?

  • St. Peter – Judea, Antioch, Bithynia (in Asia), Cilicia, Rome, throughout Italy

  • St. Andrew – Scythia, Greece, Byzantium (Constantinople), and Russia

  • St. James the son of Zebedee – Jerusalem, Spain

  • St. John – Rome, Asia

  • St. Philip – Phrygia (in Asia Minor)

  • St. Bartholomew – Syria, Asia, India, Armenia

  • St. Thomas – India

  • St. Matthew – Israel, Ethiopia

  • St. James the son of Alpheus – Syria, Egypt

  • St. Thaddeus (also called St. Judas, the brother of James) – Judah, Galilee, Samaria, Idumea, Arabia, Syria, Mesopotamia, Persia

  • St. Simon – Africa, England

  • St. Matthias – Judea, Ethiopia

  • St. Paul – traveled extensively from Jerusalem to Rome, including Asia Minor and Greece

Click on image to save and print to find the countries listed above

We call these men the Apostles, because they spread the faith. Do you think there are still apostles today?


The word “apostle” comes from the Greek language. In English, we more commonly use a word from the Latin language to describe people who spread the faith: “missionary.” Fr. Rafael is a missionary priest in the Dominican Republic. He has been serving the people there for over ten years! Where in the world is the Dominican Republic? Can you find it on a map?


Activity


  1. Here is a map (see above) of the Dominican Republic that shows the churches that Fr. Rafael serves. What symbol do you think represents the churches? How many churches are there?

  2. Let’s follow Fr. Rafael in his missionary work. Look for symbols on the map that correspond to the descriptions of each city. ~ Puerto Plata - Fr. Rafael’s home and the location of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God parish. This city is a tourist city and also has one of the largest golf courses in the Caribbean. Do you see a cruise ship bringing tourists to Puerto Plato? Maybe they will stay at the five-star hotel! Can you draw a golf course near the city? ~ Sosúa - home to many Ukrainians, Serbians, Romanians, and Greeks who work to support the local tourist industry. Where is the cross that represents the mission church in Sousa? ~ Jamao - home to a small Russian diaspora. In Jamao, the Russians are dedicated to cultivating the land, growing cocoa, coffee, avocados, oranges, and other fruits. Can you find coffee beans, oranges, and fruit trees on the map in Jamao? ~ Las Terrenas - home to a mission that serves tourists from Russia and other countries. Where is the tourist in Las Terrenas? ~ Santo Domingo - the capital of the Dominican Republic. Due to the capital’s colonial history, it attracts large numbers of tourists. In addition to being a tourist attraction, Santo Domingo is home to the country’s factories. Can you find factories near Santo Domingo? ~ Punta Cana - a large tourist destination. Punta Cana is known for its beautiful beaches, great hotels, and a new airport. Do you see a fancy hotel in Punta Cana? What represents the airport?


  1. Fr. Rafael drives from his home to spread Christianity and serve the Orthodox Christians in each of these cities. Can you look on the map and find out how long it takes Fr. Rafael to drive to each city? To Sousa_____________________ To Jamao_____________________ To Las Terrenas_______________ To Santo Domingo____________ To Punta Cana________________

  2. How can you help to spread the faith? Do you think missionaries like Fr. Rafael need your prayers? St. Seraphim tells us that we can spread the faith by having peace within us. Can you spread the faith by forgiving others and showing Christian love to people around you? What are other ways you can spread Christianity? _____________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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