2009 saw Rod right back in the swing of things again as we recorded yet another studio album, Rain. We spent more time and money on Rain than any of our albums before. In August of 2008 we played at a conference in Melbourne where we met Bill Johnson, from California. Bill invited us to come and play at his church in Redding, California the following year.
We had also been invited to play at the 2009 Zondervan National Pastors Conference in San Diego, so early in 2009 we headed over to the USA for our first Californian tour. We toured there with two great long term friends of the band from Elmbrook Church in Wisconsin. Phil Brooks had been acting as our American agent and warehouse manager, the warehouse being his basement (his wife Paulette deserves a mention here as our American ‘Mum’ and chief pie cooker).
Todd Sageser was the head of Sound at Elmbrook Church and an absolute tech-guru who took holidays to tour with us voluntarily and do sound. Todd had been our driver and sound guy on the last 5-state tour in 2008, again, all done voluntarily on his holiday time. You just can’t put a value on people like this. With Todd and Phil leading us we headed out of LA airport for what was to be an amazing tour of California.
We started with the Zondervan National Pastors Conference in San Diego and finished two weeks later at Bethel Church in Redding. In between we found a warm home at two big Calvary Chapel Churches in LA; in Huntington Beach and in East LA (Montebello). Los Angeles is a big and daunting city to visit when you are from a sparsely populated country like Australia but the guys from Montebello in particular, housed us, fed us and gave us the warmest hospitality you could imagine for five days while we were there. This big church was an amazing example of the Kingdom of God at work in the roughest part of LA.
From Los Angeles we headed north playing concerts on the way, taking a day off to detour up the amazing coastline of the big Sur where we ran into a herd of elephant seals (something we don’t often see on tour). Already buzzing from a great run of events we finally got to drive up the flag lined driveway of Bethel Church in Redding. We were here to play at their conference and at the large ministry school. Usually when you play at a conference you get crammed into a busy schedule with barely time to warm up on stage. These guys gave us free reign to do our thing for two sessions of nearly an hour each. We were there to lead worship but during our sets I felt like the congregation was leading us in worship. It was one of those experiences where you feel something getting drawn out of you that you didn’t even know was there. At the end of our visit there I felt like we had received far more than we had given. We came away with a much expanded vision of what God could do through us.