Monday, August 3, 2009

Funeral Service DVD Available

DVD's of Janet's Funeral Service and Burial are available to anyone who would like a copy.

To let me know you'd like a copy, please send an email with your mailing address to:

The DVD turned out beautifully, and I treasure it as a keepsake of Janet's life.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Celebrating Janet

One of our favorite photos of Janet and the memorial wreath (Janet asked us to make sure there were some bright flowers at her funeral!)

Janet's casket and beautiful flower arrangements

Memories of Janet

Judi Utley played her harp before and after the service

There are no hearses in Thailand so the casket was carried in a pick up truck

Janet wanted a plain white wooden casket
The man in the white shirt in the center of the photo is Dr. Suttiphan, one of the doctors who helped care for Janet her last stay in the hospital. Janet's last obvious response when she was no longer able to talk was when Dr. Suttiphan came to visit. She raised her eyebrow when he spoke to her and gave him a little smile. She came to love him very much.

Pastor Hill, in the black shirt, officiated at the funeral and burial.

Lowering the casket into the ground.

Balloons rising into the sky! Janet wanted balloons at her funeral to symbolize the fact that her death was a celebration. Balloons remind Janet of her childhood and happy memories of parties and good times.

Janet mentioned often in the her last weeks that she wanted her home-going to be a celebration, not a somber, sad affair. Although there were many tears, there was also a true sense that Janet was with Jesus, and no longer suffering, and that we should be happy for her!

Her memorial service was beautiful. Clark Aspinwall and Pam both shared memories of Janet and two pastors, one from Janet's Thai church and another from one of the international churches in Chiang Mai, shared words of encouragement from the Scriptures. We showed photos of Janet's life with three of her favorite songs playing in the background, "On My Way to Paradise" (the song that played when Janet first turned her Ipod on after her biopsy), "No More Night", and "Finally Home".

Her friend who traveled to Israel with her this Spring, Janet Greenleaf, read Psalm 122 and prayed for the peace of Jerusalem. We also sang "Great is Thy Faithfulness" and "Soon and Very Soon". The song, "There is a Savior", sung by Sandi Patty , was played at the end of the service during a time of reflection. Janet had played this song so many times during her illness and when she was strong enough she sang along, then as she got weaker she would just move her hands in time to the music and at the end when she was too weak to do anything else she would raise her eyebrows during the high notes and we knew she was singing in her heart!

Janet wanted helium balloons at her burial so we drove to the cemetery with balloons bulging out of the back of a couple pickup trucks. At the grave site we were each given a balloon that we released as she was being lowered into the grave. We sang "The Lord's Prayer" together. That song was sung around her bed both in the hospital and at home, and we thought it appropriate to sing again as we committed her body to the ground. We miss Janet but we don't grieve as those who have no hope because we know that we will meet again in heaven, either when the Lord returns or when He calls us home. (Deb)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Obituary: Janet Louise Gilliam

Janet Louise Gilliam was born Nov. 8, 1940, in Washington, D.C., the only child of John Wilson Gilliam and Charlotte Oland Gilliam. She trusted Christ as her Saviour at the age of 12, during a Sunday School class. Janet's career began as a psychiatric nurse in Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, and Florida before she gave her life to missionary service at age 49.

During her nursing years, Janet was highly respected as the Clinical Coordinator of Nursing at several psychiatric hospitals, including the Dominion Psychiatric Treatment Hospital in Falls Church, VA; the Greater Laurel Beltsville Hospital in Laurel, MD; the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.; the Psychiatric Crisis Intervention Unit at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, FL; Mercy Hospital in Miami, FL; and the Park-Duvalle Neighborhood Health Center in Louisville, KY. Janet was a sought after public speaker and group therapist for her work in rape prevention and post-rape trauma, and she became an early pioneer of the play therapy movement for intervention with traumatized children.

In 1989, Janet gave her life to full time missionary service by joining New Tribes Mission. She first moved to Thailand in July, 1991 at age 50. She had a particular love for the Thai people, and was well loved by many Thai friends. During her 18 years in Thailand, she lived the essence of the Gospel by giving sacrificially to those around her. Her ministry in Thailand included that of teacher for missionaries' children at New Tribes Education Center (NTEC), supply buyer for Grace International School (GIS), and teacher's assistant in the Special Needs Department and Extension Services Department at GIS. She also had a vast impact among several homeschooling families, and made a lasting contribution to several Thai churches, including Chiang Mai Blessings Church, Abundant Grace Church of Chiang Mai , and the Glad Tidings Assembly of God in Sanpatong. Janet had a remarkable ability to make deep friendships wherever she went, in spite of language limitations.

Janet's lifelong dream was to spend several months in Israel, and God graciously granted that request just prior to her death, by allowing her to spend three months in and around Jerusalem. Her love and passion for Israel closely parallel the heart of God the Father, and she frequently spoke out, encouraging others to "Remember Israel." Janet was a woman who loved God deeply and lived a life of holiness as she served Him. She died on July 16, 2009, after a brief 48-day battle with pancreatic cancer. During her final days, she continued to be a light and testimony to those around her, as she eagerly embraced the presence of Jesus. She will be sorely missed by many friends in Thailand, as well as her maternal aunt, Shelva Jean Stuart, of Weddington, NC, and numerous cousins and American friends.

Janet will be interred at the Chiang Mai Foreign Cemetery on Chiang Mai-Lamphun Road, on Monday, July 20, 2009. In lieu of flowers, Janet has requested that memorial gifts be sent to the Extension Services Department of Grace International School, where Janet worked for many years.

Memorial Gifts

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be given to the Extension Services Department of Grace International School.

In the U.S.A., make checks payable to Grace International School and send them to the following address, noting that it is a deposit to the school's account. Funds may also be transferred electronically using the following information. For gifts given in the USA, please also send an email to indicating the amount of your gift for the "Janet Gilliam Memorial Fund," in order to be sure that your gift is properly distributed.

U.S. Address:
Evangelical Christian Credit Union
Account Name: Grace International School
Account #: 744184
Routing #: 3222-7337-9
Mailing Address: PO Box 2400, Brea, CA 92822-2400

In Thailand, checks for US Dollars or Thai Baht may be sent to Grace International School, indicating that the funds are for the "Janet Gilliam Memorial Fund."

Thailand address:
Grace International School
178/ 832 Muu 7
Chiang Mai- Hod Rd. KM 10
Hang Dong, Chiang Mai 50230

Saturday, July 18, 2009


We have had several phone calls asking if the Sunday evening event at Pam's (5 pm.) is only for Janet's Thai friends, or if foreigners are also encouraged to attend.

The event is open to everyone, so please feel free to come! We have planned this event because it is important in Thai culture to gather frequently and have more than just one time for grieving. Sunday evening will be very much Thai style and in the Thai tradition, so if you're comfortable with that--come!

The more formal, Western-style funeral will be Monday morning (10 am.) at the Chiang Mai Community Church.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Plans and Preparations

We (Pam and the other caregivers), along with Pastor Peter Hill, who will be officiating at Janet's memorial service, and Nathan Rueck, met this afternoon to plan Janet's memorial service. The Lord gave us enough clarity of thought to work through the most important issues today. Because there are no mortuaries in Chiang Mai a lot of the preparation that is usually done for the family by a mortuary (for a price, of course!) we are having to do ourselves. We could use a "Gilliam Funeral Home" in Chiang Mai! (Some of Janet's family in the States own a "Gilliam Funeral Home" and Janet often mentioned it the past few weeks.)

In thinking through things we had to take into consideration Thai culture as well as our western way of handling funerals. It was interesting as some planning involved speaking with Thai friends using the Thai language, some conversations were with others who speak what sometimes seems like a foreign language to us Americans (English with a Scottish accent!), as well as New Zealand and American English! Thrown into the mix is a Thai who grew up in a German family and speaks fluent English with a German accent!

There were some 'speed bumps' as we were planning this afternoon. One was when we called the director of the cemetery where Janet had purchased a plot and were told that the earliest they could have Janet's grave dug is next Thursday!! That meant we had to find a way to get the job done ourselves so we could have the burial Monday as planned! That certainly was not on our 'to do' list for this weekend! Thanks to Nathan we were able to get that major glitch sorted out. I don't imagine many of us, as we've attended the burial service of a loved one, have ever given much thought to the fact that someone had to dig the grave!!

It continues to be a joy to work together to carry out Janet's wishes for her home going celebration! Please pray that we will get the things done that need doing and still get the rest we all need. Pray, too, that everything we say and do in the coming days will give God the glory He deserves and honor the memory of Janet, who wanted her home going to be a time of joy and celebration. She also desired that it would point others to the Savior she loved and served so faithfully!

Our hearts go out to Janet's family and friends in the US who are grieving and not able to be a part of the preparations and celebration here. We pray that God will comfort your hearts with the confidence that Janet's final wishes are being carried out to the best of our ability. We count it a privilege to do for Janet what you would be doing for her had Janet been in the States when she passed into eternity.

Celebration of Janet's Life

Time of Remembrance for Janet

In keeping with Thai culture and in honor of her Thai friends, we will gather to remember Janet informally with a Thai meal, singing, and a short message by Janet’s Thai pastor.

The time is 5:00 PM, Sunday, July 19 and will be at Pam Davis’s home at 178/965 World Club Land. (Enter World Club, go past APLC Kindergarten, GIS and the second guard house. Keep going straight past the roundabout, then turn left on to Soi 16. Make the second right on soi 16 K (khaw khai), then 1st left at the Capital G sign. Park anywhere along there and walk, taking the first right and Pam’s house is the last on the left.)

Celebration of Janet’s Life

Monday morning, July 20, 2009

Chiang Mai Community Church

10:00 AM Celebration of Janet’s Life
11:30 AM Lunch
12:30 AM Burial in the Chiang Mai Foreign Cemetery, CM-Lamphun Road

In lieu of flowers, Janet requested that memorial gifts be given to the Grace International School Extension Services Department, where she worked for many years.