Meet Sara & Vasco who moved to Berlin from a small town – in search for new opportunities. Opportunities don’t come without challenges. In the midst of fighting for their dreams, they saw one dream become reality: their first son Gioel was born. Through the ups and downs of life, they decided to stick to what is important to them…
How did you two meet?
Vasco: This is a question for Sarah because I always get the details wrong…
Sara: We met in Oranienburg, a small town just outside of Berlin. I was 13 and he was 12 years old. Funnily enough, we didn’t like each other.
Vasco: Not at all. (laughs)
So how did you end up in Berlin?
Vasco: I grew up in Cologne, a multicultural and diverse city. When my family moved to Oranienburg, it almost felt like entering a different world. I hated the small-mindedness and dreamed of moving back to a bigger city as soon as I was finished with school. I was so drawn to Berlin that I found myself traveling there almost every day. After my graduation in 2011, instead of settling in a neat house or with a safe job in Oranienburg we decided to make our dream come true and move to Berlin – we knew there was more. We wanted to get married and see what the future holds for us.
Was Berlin able to meet your expectations?
Sara: Ever since I was a kid I wanted to become an architect, but it was a long and winding road to see this dream come to life. I’ve always been fascinated by architecture, because it influences every sphere of life. Sometimes more noticeable and bold, sometimes subtle and just serving its purpose. I applied to university twice and got rejected both times. I ended up doing a traineeship in visual arts and was offered a job, but decided not to take it. Instead I tried to get into university one more time and guess what – this time I got accepted! It was a miracle, even my parents thought I had given up on that dream a long time ago, but I persisted and started university in 2014.
Vasco: Originally I wanted to study music, but realised pretty quickly that it was really hard to make a living in that industry. So I did a social year at an emergency room in a hospital in Wedding. Being the laid-back and chilled person I am, this year helped me to understand what hard work really means. Around that time Sara and I also started going to a church together – a place full of vision, where people encouraged each other to live to their full potential. This was the second place where my attitude and my character got challenged! After doing a traineeship in financial sales and insurance, I worked as a freelancer in sales. To be honest, this was a really hard time for us as a couple. Lots of work and little understanding of what it means to build up a business from scratch. My lack of knowledge and experience in that area eventually got us into some serious trouble.
How did this experience change you?
Vasco: It became very real to me that my life is not just about me anymore. I had to think about the impact my decisions have on my family. That was the moment I decided to start taking responsibility to learn and grow – and to finally start living a bigger life. About a year ago my boss at the company I was freelancing for asked me if I was interested in starting a real estate company with him. He saw potential in me that I honestly didn’t see myself. I said yes, but was skeptical. This decision was followed by lots of emotional highs and lows and again, a lot of energy went into work. I still chose to serve my community wherever help was needed. When I look back now I’m so thankful that my boss constantly pushed me to bring the best out of me. No text book could have ever given me such an exponential learning curve.
…and then Gioel came along?
Sara: We wanted to have a baby and tried for over a year. At some point we decided to focus on other things. We knew that it is possible to live a big life without having what is on your heart the very moment you want it. Then, all of a sudden, it came as a beautiful surprise! Fast forward, when we arrived home with Gioel after his birth, it felt like a reality shock. We looked at each other, both thinking “What are we doing?”. It felt like our whole lives exclusively revolved around this baby now. My natural default was to stay home because of fear and anxiety, just playing it safe and having everything under control. In that moment we remembered the decision Vasco and I made before Gioel was born – to live a big life, continue investing into the community we are part of, be a blessing to others and give our son an example to follow. Pretty much the opposite of how we grew up (laughs). I continued to study and even took our son to university when he was two weeks old.
Vasco: While Sara was writing her Bachelor thesis, I was working full time, trying to get my head around the business. When I came home around 9PM, exhausted and ready to go to bed, I realised she had been taking care of our child all day, and usually continued working on her Bachelor thesis after putting him to sleep until the early morning hours. She never complained about how intense life was, she just walked the walk. It gave me a whole new appreciation for how blessed I was. Sara did this for weeks. She is the hardest working person I know.
Sara: It’s a privilege to be entrusted with raising a child. We couldn’t do it on our own though – it really takes a village. We are forever grateful for our church community – I couldn’t imagine a safer environment for our son to grow up in. There is always a person around taking care of Gioel. This community has been our family for years – and now it is his family, also.
‘Unfinished Story’ – what does this make you think of?
Vasco: Sometimes we can’t wrap our head around the things that happen in life, but we have an opportunity to ask ourselves what we can learn from it. How can we get better? We are not the only ones facing life’s challenges. How can we help each other?
What’s the one thing you would tell Gioel for the future?
Sara: I would tell him: Don’t focus too much on what the world says about you. Opinions come and go. What actually matters is what God says about you. You are not only our son, but God’s son. We are humans, subject to failure. Your life will contain ups and downs, twists and turns, happy and sad tears, but you can trust God and His promises for your life. It’s going to be the biggest adventure!
What does Easter represent for you?
Sara: Jesus is the ultimate pioneer. He did something no one has ever done before and that inspires me. I can’t get my head around the fact that He died and rose again not just for me, but for humanity. For everyone. And He didn’t have to do that. That’s how much He loves us. The message of Easter changes everything for me. It helps me to be the wife, mum, sister, friend and colleague I was made to be – it changes my whole outlook on life.