I Love You Even If…

A story is told about a soldier who was finally coming home after having fought in Vietnam. He called his parents from San Francisco. “Mom and Dad, I’m coming home, but I’ve a favor to ask. I have a friend I’d like to bring home with me.”

“Sure”, they replied, “we’d love to meet him.”

“There’s something you should know” the son continued, “he was hurt pretty badly in the fighting. He stepped on a land mine and lost an arm and a leg. He has nowhere to go, and I want him to come live with us.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, son. Maybe we can help him find somewhere to live.”

“No, Mom and Dad, I want him to live with us.”

“Son,” said the father, “you don’t know what you’re asking. Someone with such a handicap would be a terrible burden on us. We have our own lives to live, and we can’t let something like this interfere with our lives. I think you should just come home and forget about this guy. He’ll find a way to live on his own.

At that point, the son hung up the phone. The parents heard nothing more from him. A few days later, however, they received a call from the San Francisco police. Their son died after falling from a building, they were told. The police believed it was suicide.

The grief-stricken parents flew to San Francisco and were taken to the city morgue to identify the body of their son. They recognized him, but to their horror they also discovered something they didn’t know, their son had only one arm and one leg.

Friends, how much do you love your family members? Your spouse? Your friends? What if you found out something about your loved one that is hard to accept? Maybe an illness? Or he had done something shameful? Or had committed terrible sins? Your image of who he was has already gone. Will you still accept him? Can you still embrace that person? Can you still stay “I still love you, even if…”

As we enter the love month, may we all learn how to get rid of idolatry in our relationships, and replace it with unconditional love. Instead of saying “I love you because…” let us say “I love you even if…”

Have grace-filled relationships this year and beyond!

Bro. Aben Garlan
– Written for the Feast Cagayan De Oro Bulletin, August 2013

Fort Pilar, Zamboanga City Philippines

Fort Pilar, Zamboanga City Philippines



We live in an imperfect world. With imperfect relationships, imperfect resources, imperfect health and imperfect situations.

That’s why I don’t watch television too often, because of the imperfections being highlighted most of the time. And when I choose to turn on the TV set, I make sure 99% of the time I watch programs that will make me laugh instead. Although few years back here in Cagayan De Oro, I had to set my alarm every week so that I won’t miss my favorite program. It’s useless though, because I missed 51 out of 52 weeks watching because it is not in my system. I’d rather divert my attention to more productive stuffs.

Living in a negative world, I too experienced great imperfections for this year alone. A lot of negative things happened and it seems that there’s no end. Just to summarize, I have been confined three times with a total of 45 days. All of these were serious illnesses and life threatening indeed! I had to fight against all my health challenges for more than 125 days. That covered more than 1/3 of the year! On top of my health problems are, of course, financial problems. Spending more than Ph750,000 up to present to recover health is really no joke. Emotional and relational problems arose too. I battled against anxieties and uncertainties. In other words, worries.

With the grace of God and help of the people in my life, I know I have fought a good fight. I can’t worry and worship at the same time. So instead of focusing on what has been happening, I focused on what’s above. My God who is always with me. My God who sees my future and not my present. My God who lifts me high. And it excites me more to focus on what God has in store for me in the years to come!

And for you, I pray that you can delete the negatives in your mind. May all your worries and fears be washed away. May God bless you in this year and beyond!

1 Peter 5:10 God will make everything right

Yes, you will suffer for a short time, but after that, God will make everything right.

– An article written for The Feast Cagayan De Oro Bulletin December 2013

I Will Remember My God

I Will Remember My God

In front of mountain-like problems,
In the middle of ocean-deep pain,
In the midst of dark-clouds of doubt,

I will remember my God
Who was faithful to me in the past.
He is with me at the present.
He will be the same God
Who will be faithful to me in the future.

I shall reach my mountain-sized dreams,
I shall swim to the ocean of blessings,
I shall be lifted high in the sky.

– Bro. Aben Garlan, child of God –

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
(Philippians 4:13)
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PICC Philippians 4:13


A midst the uncertainties in the path you are taking,
B ecause of the humungous obstacles you are facing.
E ntrapped by fear, covered with clouds of doubt,
N owhere to go, though you gave your all-out!

G ive yourself another chance, it’s not the end;
A ll your sacrifices will help you transcend.
R emember the reasons why you are fighting hard:
L ife, Light and Love for the people that you regard;
A blessing to many, that you dreamed to be.
N ow power up, to continue your journey!


May you have the best time of your life! Claim that something great will happen to you in 2014. Happy New Year!

A majestic waterfalls behind the magnificent ampitheater-like Batad Rice Terraces. Ifugao province, Northern Philippines.

A majestic waterfalls behind the magnificent ampitheater-like Batad Rice Terraces. Ifugao province, Northern Philippines.