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LDS colonel helps country through disaster

Recent earthquakes in El Salvador have meant double duty for Enrique Posada.

As a Salvadoran army officer, Lt. Col. Posada has labored seven days a week serving his people. He has helped stabilize the beleaguered country's mail system. He's worked to establish a refugee camp for legions of his nation's recent homeless.

As a counselor in the Merliot Ward bishopric, Brother Posada enlists his spiritual rank — sharing priesthood blessings and words of comfort to fellow Church members.

His military training has been a commodity to his "paisanos," or compatriots. The gospel has been his personal repository of strength. Steady faith in a loving Heavenly Father "is the only way to deal with the hard situation we are living with here," he said.

Brother Posada is an instructor at the Army's educational and doctrinal command center. But when the first deadly earthquake rattled El Salvador on Jan. 13, he assumed an emergency assignment helping establish and operate what would become the country's largest victims center at Santa Tecla, a San Salvador suburb devastated by the quake.

The trembling was soon replaced by sporadic civil disorder. Brother Posada shifted his attention to maintaining security, feeding hungry victims, securing medical attention for the many wounded and instituting sanitation measures to foil disease. He was also given the task of stabilizing the country's now volatile mail system.

Days in El Salvador are long and, for many, fearful. Aftershocks and seismic rumblings have occurred with unsettling frequency. Hundreds have died, thousands have lost homes and jobs and all have been forever changed by the recent disasters. Church members are not immune to the nation's collective anxiety. Still, the gospel sustains, Brother Posada said.

"It's not easy dealing with these problems," he said. "But you can resolve or find the solutions to your problems through the scriptures, through prayer and through the guidance of our prophet."

Brother Posada is not a seasoned Church veteran. Six years ago, a friend introduced him to the full-time missionaries while he was enrolled in an advanced military training program at a U.S. Army post in Kansas. He and his wife, Sylvia, along with their three children, accepted the sister missionaries' gospel message.

"We were a golden family, all of us were baptized except for our youngest child who was too young," he said.

Brother Posada remains a realist. He knows troubled times await El Salvador. There are shortages of food, medicine, water and shelter. Currently, he is working on a project to provide housing for the many who conceded their homes to the earthquake.

His testimony will be a precious lifeline in the coming months.

"I think we are dealing with this situation the best that we can," he said.


E-mail: jswensen@desnews.com