Bryan Arce, a freshman majoring in general studies, found out that BYU-Pathway Worldwide is not only a path to his education but also a path to his marriage when he met his wife, Carly Arce, a sophomore studying exercise physiology.

Bryan finished his mission in 2015 and moved on to his education in his hometown of Quito, Ecuador. Bryan joined the 31 percent of international students who are part of the 15,053 students of Pathway, according to BYU-Pathway Worldwide’s website. In this program, he needed a speaking buddy, which happened to be Carly.

“I never even knew what Pathway was,” Carly said.

Bryan said Carly was a special referral from the assistant to the president in her mission. This assistant to the president happened to be Bryan Arce’s best friend whom he baptized a month after his own baptism.

For three semesters, Carly helped Bryan with his studies. During the last semester, their discussions turned to goals and what they want to achieve in this life.

“I asked Carly if I could come or go to the United States if she would accept to eat ice cream together,” said Bryan. Carly accepted that invitation but plans changed rapidly.

Carly said she planned to visit one of her friends she had trained in Ecuador, and used her funds she saved for college for this trip instead. At the airport, she turned to her mother and said, “Don’t be surprised if I come back with a ring.”

Bryan and Carly met up in Ecuador, and their relationship turned into something more than just friendship. Bryan said he took Carly to “the middle of the world,” the equator, where they shared their first kiss.

“I always imagined that he would come to the United States and meet my family, come to school and then have that American proposal,” Carly said. “That’s not what he had in mind. I had no idea.”

Eleven days later, Bryan took Carly to the Asuncion Paraguay Temple. There, in the Celestial Room, Bryan got on his knee and asked if she would marry him.

“It was an out-of-body experience, looking down at him,” Carly said.

Carly said the next seven months became a trial for her and Bryan.

The relationship was once again long-distance, and Bryan was having trouble with his visa. When Bryan and Carly finally overcame all of this, they were both sealed in Bryan’s dream temple, the Salt Lake Temple.

Happily married for a year and a half and with a child on the way, Bryan said he has a word of advice for those who are looking for their future companion.

“Before I was a member of the Church, I was praying to help me to improve,” Bryan said. “When I completed my mission I knew what I wanted, and then I started to do my part. I asked specifically, and I received specific answers on what I needed to do. Keep the commandments. Keep praying and working. Just do it. If you just do it, it will help you find that future companion or anything you want.”