For the Ayeni family, every morning is Easter morning.
Every new day gives them another reason to celebrate faith, hope, love and new life.
“We are overwhelmed,” Mary Ayeni said.
“God provided for us a way to come to Memphis, and people here have given us beyond what we need. We don’t lack for anything.”
Miracle and Testimony were surgically separated last November, 10 days before their first birthday, at LeBonheur Children’s Medical Center.
The operation was performed by a team of 15 surgeons from LeBonheur and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.
They operated for 18 hours to separate and repair the same parts of the twins’ different bodies and put them back together.
The twins had to wear devices that remolded their pelvises and allowed their legs — once splayed 180 degrees apart — to move to more normal positions.
They were released from the hospital three months ago, but they continue to undergo regular physical and occupational therapy.
“Memphis and LeBonheur and the people all around us, they also are the parents of Miracle and Testimony,” Sam Ayeni said.
“God used them to save the lives of Miracle and Testimony.”
The family has been living at the FedExFamily House since they arrived from Nigeria last June.
They have been clothed, fed and sheltered, provided for, cared for and prayed for by the community every step of the way.
When the Ayenis first arrived, Meri Armour, LeBonheur’s president and CEO, contacted FedEx executive Alan Graf and his wife, Susan.
“Meri knew the family would need all the help they could get, given the medical situation they were facing,” Susan Graf said.
The Grafs more or less adopted the family. So did their fellow members of Christ the King Lutheran Church in East Memphis.
Every Friday, a LeBonheur social worker gives the church a grocery list for the Ayenis.
Susan Graf or Kitty Kosman do the shopping. Pastor Mark Noble delivers the items to the Ayenis every Monday.
The Ayeni children have spent so much time with the Grafs, they call them grandma and grandpa.
“They are precious,” Susan Graf said. “The entire family understands how blessed they are, and they help all of us be more aware of how blessed we are.”
The family also has been adopted by Pastor Yinka Adeyemo, a native Nigerian, and members of the House on The Rock Church.
The Ayenis worship there every week with other African immigrants.
“They make us feel at home,” Mary Ayeni said.
So do other native Nigerians such as Michael Ugwueke, president and CEO of Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare, and Dr. Uzoma Ben Gbulie, a plastic surgeon at LeBonheur.
Gbulie was the initial contact for the Nigerian-based Linking Hands Foundation, which helped the family come to Memphis.
It has been a year since the Ayenis left a hospital in Nigeria on their way to Memphis.
The twins are getting healthier and stronger.
Miracle looks like she’s ready to walk.
She stood up several times last week, once for five minutes. “I stood with my legs around her, but she used her own,” Sam Ayeni said. Testimony can’t stop talking. “Oh, Lord, she likes to talk,” Sam Ayeni said. “They all like to talk.”
Marvelous loves to play with her sisters and teach them new words.
“They love to say ‘Amen!’ just before they eat,” Mary Ayeni said. “And they all scream ‘hallelujah! hallelujah!’ I want them to grow up with those words because God has saved them.”