‘I wanted to please God’: Sister Spannaus on discovering, defending and serving in the Church

Sister Andrea Muñoz Spannaus will begin serving as second counselor in the Young Women general presidency on Aug. 1

Andrea Veronica Muñoz sat in the school library alone with a nun. She had just become old enough to join Young Women, and this was her first time ever defending The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

A few years before, the Muñoz family had been baptized, joining the Church. Andrea and her older sister were students at a local Catholic school and were instructed by their parents not to tell anyone there that they had joined the Church for fear that the sisters would be asked to leave. But when a nun had asked her older sister why she wasn’t going to participate in a Catholic confirmation, she declared that the family had joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and were no longer Catholic.

As soon as the bell rang, the nun pulled Andrea into the library to question her about this information. Without knowing that her older sister had spilled the beans, Andrea felt a fire in her heart to defend the Church and the gospel.

Sister Andrea Muñoz Spannaus serves as second counselor in the Young Women general presidency.
Sister Andrea Muñoz Spannaus, sustained as second counselor in the Young Women general presidency during the April 2023 general conference, will begin serving on Aug. 1, 2023. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“This was the first time that I realized that I could defend the Church with my own testimony,” she said. 

True to their parents’ fears, Andrea and her sister were asked to leave the school. This experience gave new meaning to one of her favorite scriptures, Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth … .”

This scripture was important to her as a young woman. “No, I’m not ashamed of the gospel, of the things that I believe. I’m not ashamed of Christ,” she said.

During the April 2023 general conference, Sister Andrea Muñoz Spannaus was sustained as the second counselor in the Young Women general presidency. She will begin her service on Aug. 1.

Sister Tamara W. Runia, President Emily Belle Freeman, and Sister Andrea Muñoz Spannaus, after being called as the Young Women general presidency during April 2023 general conference.
The new Young Women general presidency are Sister Tamara W. Runia, first counselor, President Emily Belle Freeman, and Sister Andrea Muñoz Spannaus, second counselor, during the 193rd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 1, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Becoming a Saint

Andrea Veronica Muñoz Spannaus, 55, was born on May 18, 1968, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to parents Carlos Alberto Muñoz and Elida Menicucci, the second of their two daughters. She grew up in Beccar, in the Buenos Aires province of Argentina.

Sister Spannaus described herself as always having a devoted heart. “I loved everything [the Catholic school was] teaching me because I wanted to please God,” she explained. 

She recalled that the girls of her Catholic school would say that if someone died during mass, they “will be converted automatically to a saint.” And a saint was exactly what Andrea wanted to be because she loved God and wanted to please Him.

Then when she was 9 years old, “the missionaries started teaching us, and the Lord granted my desire because He showed me the true way to be a Saint — a member of the Church.”

Elder Morasco from California and Elder Pistone from Argentina began teaching the Muñoz family. They would sit in two green armchairs in the living room during lessons. “After the lessons, my sister and I would run and each of us would sit down in one of those green armchairs… because we felt like the power still remained in the chairs,” Sister Spannaus said. “We didn’t know what it was at the time, but we felt the Spirit so strongly.”

At that point, she also didn’t know that there were more religions than the Catholic church. She remembers exactly where she stood in the kitchen as her mother explained to her that there are many religions in the world and many believe in Jesus Christ.

She asked her mother what church she thought represented God. Her mother replied, “I think it is this one” — the Church the missionaries were teaching them about, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Although she worried about embracing a new faith, the feeling lasted only a few minutes. It was replaced by a desire to move ahead.

As soon as the family was baptized, Sister Spannaus could see the wonderful ways her family life changed. “I saw a mighty change in my father, especially in his character. It was beautiful for the whole family.”

Finding her own testimony

A few years later, the family moved to the countryside to a place where the Church wasn’t as well established, so there were no chapels nearby. This resulted in the family attending church sporadically. “This was a very tough time for our family,” Sister Spannaus said. 

A year later, when she was 15 years old, the family returned to Buenos Aires, but her parents and sister did not want to go back to church. “For me, that was very hard in my heart and in my mind and I couldn’t understand. … It was hard because I thought, ‘How could everything that my parents taught me suddenly have no value?’”

With a bit of teenage rebellion, she started going back to church. “That was a period in my life when I grounded my own testimony,” she said. “I was not dependent on my parents’ testimony anymore.”

As soon as she turned 18 years old and finished the Young Women program, she was called to be president of the Young Women. She also helped teach in Primary, remembering how welcomed she had felt when she was 9 years old and coming to a new church. 

The callings fit well with her love of children, her study of and career in early childhood education, and the callings she would fulfill down the road.

At 21 years old, having finished her studies, she decided to serve a mission. She was called to serve in the Argentina Resistencia Mission. It was during her time in the MTC that she discovered another scripture she holds dear in her life.

It is John 15:5: “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

“If we are separated from the vine, we die. We cannot live,” she said. “I need Jesus Christ in every step of my life. He is my Savior and my Redeemer. He paid the price for my sins, He has all power to rescue me, and with His grace, He can help me grow and become. Christ needs to be our guide. He needs to be beside us.”

Serving youth in many countries, languages

Within a year of returning, Sister Spannaus reconnected with and married Brother Alin Spannaus. They had been members in the same stake and met three years before at a Church dance. But both had other things to accomplish and didn’t feel it was the right time to get married. For Sister Spannaus, she decided to serve a mission, and Brother Spannaus completed an MBA at Brigham Young University. 

Looking back, Sister Spannaus remarked that these three years allowed each of them to grow spiritually and professionally. “So, it was wonderful that then we were better prepared to start our marriage together,” she said.

They were sealed in the Buenos Aires Argentina Temple on Oct. 22, 1992, and are the parents of two daughters.

Sister Spannaus, who is currently serving as a Relief Society general advisory council member, has had many opportunities to serve in youth leadership callings around the world due to moving for her husband’s career. In addition to serving in ward Young Women leadership in Argentina, she did the same in Miami, Florida; and Lyon, France. 

She didn’t speak any French, “but I was called to be the Young Women president for the ward,” she said.

It was the time before digital manuals and mobile phones. She had a copy of the manual in English from serving in Miami, and a counselor who knew Spanish. “I was learning the lessons and reading from my English manual, I was teaching in Spanish, and my counselor was translating in French.

“Poor girls!” 

She said: “The Lord made it all work out, and it was a wonderful experience. I think the Lord was already teaching me that language is not that important.” 

Brother and Sister Spannaus served as Mexico Cuernavaca Mission leaders from 2009-2012, and upon their return to Argentina, she was called to serve in the South America South Area For the Strength of Youth conferences committee. 

She described it as a wonderful time, watching lives change through Jesus Christ and His gospel. “We saw the potential of the youth as never before, and also how heavenly the program is,” Sister Spannaus said. “We saw the hand of God as we saw the youth come on Monday and leave on Saturday transformed. It was a sacred experience to witness that transformation.”

Eight years ago, Brother Spannaus took a job working for the Church in Utah, and the family now lives in North Salt Lake, Utah. The couple was soon called as part of the committee for the Utah Latino FSY Conference. It was yet another cherished opportunity to be “in touch with these wonderful youth,” she said. “Not only the young men and women but also the young single adults. They are the ones to run the conferences. And it was wonderful to see them develop and grow and to mentor them as we were serving our Lord together.” 

Regarding her new calling to the Young Women general presidency, she said, “I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and please God in this calling. That has been my greatest desire since I was a little girl in a Catholic school.” 

She invites the youth to develop a personal relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, to have a sure foundation for their testimony, and find eternal truths for themselves. “They need to know that they are daughters of God, that they have great potential, that God loves them with an eternal love,” she said. “They need to discover the true joy we have when we are disciples of Jesus Christ.”

“I love how President Russell M. Nelson is very optimistic about the things that will come,” Sister Spannaus said. “It’s contagious. I want to have this optimism for the rising generation. They have a call, they are leaders today, and we need to guide them as they discover their great potential.”

Sister Andrea Muñoz Spannaus was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She was sustained April 1 as second counselor in the Young Women general presidency and will begin her service on Aug. 1. | Church News graphic

About Sister Spannaus

Family: Born on May 18, 1968, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Carlos Alberto Muñoz and Elida Menicucci. Married Alin Spannaus in the Buenos Aires Argentina Temple on Oct. 22, 1992; two children.

Education: Received a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from the Profesorado de Educación Inicial Sara Eccleston in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Later, she studied art and interior design.  

Church service: Serves as a Relief Society general advisory council member, served with her husband as leaders of the Mexico Cuernavaca Mission, and is a former South America South Area FSY conference committee member, FSY Utah Latino conference co-director, stake Primary presidency counselor, ward Relief Society, Young Women and Primary president, early morning seminary teacher, YSA Spanish-speaking ward adviser, temple ordinance worker, and missionary in the Argentina Resistencia Mission.

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